Women Share Stories of Hope for Breast Cancer Month
COLUMBIA - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Missouri women battle the disease year-round. According to the American Cancer Society, Missouri ranks 14th in the nation for breast cancer diagnoses and deaths. Excluding skin cancer, it is the most common cancer among Missouri women.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service reports breast cancer makes up one third of cancers diagnosed in women.
Heather Carver, a theater professor at MU, is one of those women. Diagnosed in 2005, Carver is now a survivor. The mother of two remembers what it was like to hear the news. "I was shocked," she said. "I mean my whole world just rocked right then. You know with my daughters, the ages they were. They were two and a half and five and I just thought, 'This can't be happening to me.'"
While battling cancer, she did what she does best, she wrote a play about it. "Booby Prize" debuted at Mizzou in 2005. Carver said it was about "winning" the "prize" that no one wants to get. This September, it was followed by "Booby Trap" about being a survivor.
She credits her husband, also a cancer survivor for being her support system. Another form of support came from the Mid-Missouri Breast Cancer Support Group.
Carver said the new advances in medicine and research have allowed her to stay healthy.
Jane McElroy, vice president of the Missouri chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure said in Missouri, the rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer is about 120 per 100,000. The chapter serves 16 counties in Mid Missouri, with Cole County having one of the highest mortality rates. McElroy also said they see higher mortality rates in African-American Women.
The chapter offers many resources to women including grants for education and prevention as well as treatments and screenings. Since the Mid-Missouri affiliate opened, it has granted more than 240,000 thousand dollars. That money comes from donations from people in the Mid-Missouri region.
McElroy says it's great to have October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month because it gives them a focus but their efforts continue all year long. "We are actually doing things every single day towards helping that, you know the mission of the Komen foundation is, 'a world without cancer," she said
Carver is all about promoting the pink. She organized a "flash mob" in her husband's lecture. Her mob decked out in pink, stormed the class room and started dancing to Michael Jackson's "Beat It." Truman the Tiger and Chancellor Brady Deaton even joined in the festivities
I want people who are diagnosed to know it's something they can fight. It's difficult and it's serious, but I want them to know there are ways they're going to make it. We're going to make a difference," Carver said.