Unlike many who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, Sherrie Beecher has never felt a telltale lump. But as a person with a family history of various cancers, he was diligent about his health, receiving his regular mammogram every year. It was one such date in 2007 that changed the course of her life.
“It wasn’t a lump, but it was a nest of cancerous cells. So after I found out, I was referred to a breast cancer specialist in Savannah. I went around seeing all the other doctors – the oncologist, the radiologist – I think there were four or five … it was a really scary and overwhelming day, “Beecher recalled.” I was overworked. I really had to take some time to process it before making any decisions. “
Once Beecher wandered off a bit, she was able to chart the course of her treatment. She chose to have a mastectomy with reconstruction. And because Beecher chose that path, he avoided chemotherapy and radiation. However, it was early detection that really made the difference.
“That’s why I tell everyone to keep up with their mammograms. With my family history, I really felt like it was only a matter of time before I would have my turn with cancer… but thank the Lord, I’m far from that now, ”she said.
Everyone who has heard the shocking words – “you have breast cancer” has their own story. For Angie Votsis, hers came during a period of additional stress and a spate of coronavirus cases in the summer of 2020.
“I had to have a mammogram and I wondered if I had to go to the hospital because of COVID … there were over 70 COVID patients admitted to the hospital at that time, but I went there,” she said. “I was told that I had to come back for a second mammogram and that I would receive the results immediately after the exam.”
It was indeed cancer, but like Beecher, it would have gone unnoticed if she hadn’t had a mammogram.
Votsis has scheduled her cancer treatment appointments around her grandson’s arrival in Chicago. She went on with the surgery and only needed radiation because the cancer was contained.
“I had radiation every day starting in January and ending in February 2021. At the time I was acting as a legal counsel at Goodyear, so I went on the street to the hospital after work,” she said.
“Everyone from the technicians, to the nurses and doctors, was so kind and compassionate. I was fortunate to have the support of immediate family, church family, friends, neighbors and even alumni during my cancer journey. “
Robin Nunn had a different experience. He had an underlying condition, which made his diagnosis and treatment much more difficult.
“Nobody in my family had it, so it really came as a shock when I was diagnosed in 2015,” Nunn said.
“I was then diagnosed a second time in August 2019 which was high risk because I had an underlying problem with MS. I underwent surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. I was really nervous about my condition. I ended up at Magnolia Manor because I couldn’t walk so it took a while to be able to walk again. “
With each of these women, the path was obviously not easy, but they resisted. And their strength and courage will soon be on display.
The three women will join other women (and men) who have also survived breast cancer as models in the American Cancer Society’s Fashion Show & Luncheon. It will take place on February 5 at the Sea Palms Resort in St. Simons, after being moved from the original October date due to the pandemic.
Doors open at 11:15 am The event includes live and silent auctions, as well as the sale of the “pink box”, a mysterious gift.
Tickets cost $ 50 and will go on sale until January 28th. Those can be purchased at Cunningham Jewelers, Gentlemen’s and Lady Outfitters, and Saint Simons Drug Company.
Co-presidents Joy Cook and Rhonda Barlow gathered a number of survivors to showcase the latest styles of the area’s merchants. Connie Hiott, a volunteer and marketing coordinator for the show, says the women have done an outstanding job of aligning all the details.
“Joy and Rhonda were just phenomenal… really the whole committee was. All of these models are local and they are people in our community who are receiving or have received care right here, ”Hiott said.
“It’s so wonderful to see how people turn out to support and encourage them. They may be a little skittish about being role models at first, but in the end they have so much fun. “
Of course, to really build the models, they need a room full of participants. Hiott hopes the community will continue to show itself as it did in the past. And the models can’t wait for the time to shine. Votsis also feels it will be incredibly touching to support his fellow survivors.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I joined a huge ‘club’. I also realized how far we’ve come in the past 50 years with diagnosis and treatment, ”Votsis said.
“Raising funds for research is essential. I want to participate in the parade with my fellow club members to make a small contribution to this effort ”.