I promise

"I promise, Suzy... Even if it takes the rest of my life." - Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?


Just in recent years, Triple Negative Breast Cancer has sparked interest in the news where instead of calling the tumor as ER-negative, PR-negative, and HER2-negative; researchers began using the shorthand term, "Triple Negative," dubbed the "new type" type of cancer. Being Triple Negative, you don't have a targeted therapy and that your only treatment option is chemotherapy.

Triple Negative is seen in about 15% of all breast cancers. Triple Negative is a very aggressive cancer that tends to strike younger women, pre-menopause, especially among African-American women and women who have BRCA1 mutations. The tumor tends to be fast growing and is less likely to show up on an annual mammogram. TN is more likely to metastasis early on; has a high rate of recurrence in the first 2-3 years from diagnosis and has a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer due to lack of specific, targeted treatment for TNBC.

Carpe diem

Seize Each new Day with Renewed Strength,
Believe in Yourself, Go forward with
Courage and faith
to face whatever Tomorrow may bring.

Chicks For Charity motto:

Enjoy life. Laugh a lot.
Work hard. Play hard.
Be thankful for our blessings.
Share the wisdom. Give back

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Survivor Highlight Story by UT Center for Health and Successful Living 2015

Dr. Gaber and Melissa Paskvan
Survivor Highlight:
The Story of Melissa Paskvan
In August of 2009, while mindlessly scratching an itch on her left side, Melissa found an abnormal lump in her left breast. Upon feeling the lump, her thoughts were immediately drawn to the frightening possibility of breast cancer. Two days later, Melissa was able to get into the Breast Care Center at Toledo Hospital for a mammogram. It came back negative.
That same day, Melissa automatically received an ultrasound of her breast. The ultrasound detected a cyst but the doctor was not concerned about a malignancy. Although the two screening tests had not detected any cancer, Melissa was not comfortable with or confident in the “all clear” diagnosis. Doubts continued to weigh heavily on her mind and heart. She continued to advocate for herself and requested that her doctors do an immediate biopsy that same day. Because she did not want to alarm her husband and family members, Melissa did not tell them about finding the lump and the need for these medical tests. Before she informed her loved ones, she wanted to wait to receive a definitive diagnosis that would put everyone’s mind at ease.
Two days after the biopsy, Melissa received the phone call that she had been dreading. Her primary care physician on the phone informed her the results of the biopsy were positive. Melissa had breast cancer. At age 41, she was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Action needed to be taken immediately. The challenging journey with breast cancer began.
Melissa quickly underwent the surgical knife and had a lumpectomy; then chemotherapy; then radiation. After the active treatment was over, Melissa started to develop short- term memory loss, experienced extreme fatigue, lost both of her jobs, was in a car accident and crushed her foot. She also suffered from residual pain from the surgical removal of lymph nodes. At this point in the journey, Melissa had completed active treatment but felt a strong sense of fear and uncertainty regarding if or when the cancer would return. She also suffered from a significant decline in her health and quality of life. She did not know where to turn for help.
It was at this time in her life when Melissa discovered the Center for Health and Successful Living on the main campus of the University of Toledo. She attended an event or two and starting making friends with staff members and with a few of the other survivors who were present. The number and strength of the friendships continued to grow as did her attendance at events and services sponsored by the Center.
Melissa states the Center is a place where she can go to get away, relax, get support, and surround herself with supporters and cancer survivors who understand what she is going through. Since late 2013, Melissa has attended art classes, book clubs, the Pink Sneaker walking club, and the grief support group. In addition she attends many of the weekly leadership meetings and has helped with the outreach breast health services that the Center provides at the Toledo PRIDE Festival. She recently assisted with President Gaber’s visit to the Center. President Sharon Gaber is UT’s new and first female president. Because of the Center and its programming and services, Melissa reports that she has started to find a “new normal” and has discovered a new motivation to live a healthy lifestyle. She is exercising more, eating healthier, and more health conscious.
Last month during Melissa’s annual mammogram, a benign calcification was detected. Considering her past experiences with screening mammograms, this result was unsettling to Melissa. Therefore, her doctor recommended she get a breast MRI since her last one was in 2012. However, Melissa could not afford the cost of the breast MRI. When Drs. Jordan and Thompson (Directors of the Center) heard about this dilemma, they contacted Melissa and informed her that a foundation entitled Lambie’s Legacy Foundation had given the Center a grant to help women in these types of situations. Therefore, with the help of Lambie’s Legacy funds, the Center was able to help Melissa pay for this MRI.
The MRI came back negative and everyone is celebrating this wonderful result. Thanks to the Lambie’s Legacy Foundation for helping the Paskvan family afford this important medical test. Melissa is now able to get back to her life of helping other survivors and being the best mother, wife, and friend that she can be!

Local Breast Cancer Support Group Holiday Celebration of Life and Hope 2015-2016

Our annual holiday celebration at the Victory Center with my breast cancer survivor sisters.  We live for today and hope for good health, promising treatments, a cure and have hope for more tomorrows together. These are my peeps that have helped me through some troubling times and always give me a reason to laugh! Love you all xoxo

Side note: 6 of us pictured are Triple Negative.

Left to Right: Diane, Laurie, Kim, Joyce, Beth, Karen, Lori,
Melissa J., Carol, Tatum, Jyll, Areena, Diana, Joyce B.,
Devorah and Melissa P.

Left to Right: Diane, Laurie, Kim, Joyce, Beth, Karen, Lori,
Melissa J., 
Carol, Tatum, Jyll, Areena, Diana, Joyce B.,
Devorah and Melissa P.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Brandy....

Today, December 12th, 2015, I said goodbye to a special pink sister, Brandy Gilliland whom passed on Dec. 3rd at age 40 from a recurrence of her breast cancer after being in remission for 6 years.  Brandy touched my life, as she was the first pink sister I had met while we were both going through chemo and had met at our oncologist's office.  I have seen and spoke with Brandy at different breast cancer events and had also spoken to her dad whom I've seen accompanying her at doctor appointments.  I went to Brandy's Celebration of Life memorial to say good-bye to Brandy and give her dad my condolences and a hug. Rest peacefully sweet sister.

Monday, November 30, 2015

University Of Toledo Rocket Football Honors Breast Cancer Survivors...

On November 27th 2015, several of my breast cancer sisters from University of Toledo's Center for Health and Successful Living met at their office for a tailgate party prior to the UT's Rockets football game.  Though it was chilly and rainy we braved the walk to the stadium and watch the football game taking on Western Michigan Broncos.  Partway through the game, us breast cancer survivors were called out onto to the field to be recognized for our survivorship.

Tail-gate party at UT for us survivors

with Santa... kicking off the holiday season

Survivors Melissa and Barb Oxner

UT Rockets football

Us breast cancer survivors being honored on field

On the field line with the University of Toledo Rockets 

My breast cancer survivor girls!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Honored to Speak at Lambie's Legacy Friends-giving Fundraiser

During my last mammogram, a few benign calcification was detected... I wasn't comfortable with these results without further investigation and contacted my doctor.  Since I haven't had a breast MRI in a few years, one was recommended and ordered.  I was hesitant with getting further testing because of my high deductible I would had to meet first with my health insurance before benefits would kick in, which meant out-of-pocket expenses for me... as I've been unemployed for the past year and with money being tight, I couldn't afford to take on more debt.  I've discussed my concerns with Dr. Amy Thompson of University of Toledo's Center for Health and Successful Living.  
Dr. Thompson told me to go forward with getting my MRI done and assured me that she can assist me with cost through a grant from the Lambie's Legacy Foundation that had also previously assisted me with the 3D imaging of my mammogram.  My MRI did come back normal and I was relieved. 

On November 18, 2015, I was invited to speak along with Dr. Amy Thompson and Dr. Timothy Jordan of UT Center for Health and Successful Living at a fundraiser, 6th Annual Cocktails for a Cause presented by Lambie's Legacy to raise funds to support their mission of patient support, health education and mammograms.  In a room full of supporters, I was honored and thrilled to share my story of my breast cancer diagnosis and was able to personally thank The University of Toledo Center for Health and Successful Living and Lambie's Legacy for helping me with payment of my last scans to ensure that I take care of my breast health; and easing my anxiety of health concerns.  This event was a really fun evening with great food, friends, music and raising about $50,000!

Thank you Lambie's Legacy for your assistance!

Melissa, Dr. Jordan, Jesse, Dr. Amy Thompson

High School classmates supporters, Amy Thorpe, Melissa
and Meigen Nitschke

Speaking at Lambie's Legacy fundraiser

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Interview, Toledo Center thats Helping Cancer Patients is the First of it's Kind in the US 2015

TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - by LIssa Guyton
About 9,000 women in Ohio will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Thanks to a charity called Lambie's Legacy, people in need are getting help with diagnosis and treatment.
The foundation was started in honor of Margaret Guyton Stout who died of breast cancer in 2011.Margaret's nickname was Lambie and she's the sister of our own Lissa Guyton. Today, Lissa met someone whose life has been impacted by the work of the foundation in Lambie's honor.
Melissa Paskvan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2009, "When my doctor told me I was shocked. I couldn't answer any questions all I could keep saying was okay, okay." She went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, "All I could think about was my son, he was 7 at the time."
Several years after those treatments, a routine mammogram raised more concerns. Her doctor recommended a breast MRI. The problem was, her insurance didn't cover it.
Thanks in part to a donation from Lambie's Legacy The Center for Health and Successful Living was able to step in and pay the bill.
The center is on The University of Toledo campus and it's a one stop shop for survivors, focusing on things like education, support groups and screening. Dr. Amy Thompson is a co-founder of the center and her mother is a breast cancer survivor,"Everything we do is to take people's minds off cancer and some of the challenges they face."  
Dr. Thompson and Melissa Paskvan
And it's the first of its kind in the United States. The vast majority of people working at the center are volunteers including Dr. Thompson and they run it on a limited budget, "It's the most inspiring work I have ever done. Sometimes its easy for all of us to think we've had a bad day but you soon realize you've never had a bad day compared to people like Melissa. It's made me re-evaluate what I do it is not a job to me. I know every day we're making a difference."
Dr. Iman Mohamed is an Oncologist at The University of Toledo Medical Center. She says the work of the center is changing lives, "To treat our patients and think we'll be there at all the stages is a very limited view as a physician. We need to partner with groups in the community like the center that can hold their hands and walk with them."
As tough as Melissa's cancer journey has been at times,she is grateful for those here at the center who have held her hand through it all, "My husband and son are the most important things to me and I am glad to be around for them.I am so thankful for all the people in my life who have helped make that happen." The MRI Melissa received delivered good news, the cancer is not back.
The biggest fundraiser of the year for Lambie's Legacy is Wednesday night at the Carranor Hunt and Polo Club in Perrysburg. The money raised will be used to help people in our community with a number of different needs.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Carving at Center for Health and Successful Living

Night out at University of Toledo's Center for Health and Successful Living for pumpkin carving fun with my pink sisters... one of the activities the Center had to offer bringing us survivors together for Halloween fun 2015.

My pumpkin creation

Monday, October 19, 2015

Honored to Accept the 2015 Debra A. Green Community Service Award...

A ministering angel shall my sister be.
Last weekend, October 10, 2015,  I was so very honored to have received the 2015 Medical Mutual's Community Service Award presented to me by Debra A. Green herself in front of my family, close friends, pink sisters, Chrys Peterson and another 200+ guests in attendance at Hattitude's Breast Cancer Awareness Brunch at the Hilton Garden Inn of Perrysburg, Ohio.  As a Keynote Speaker also, I shared my story of triumph over Triple Negative Breast Cancer and my passion to keeping fighting for my TNBC sisters and keep bringing attention to this dreaded disease.  I have to say, I was quite nervous and did not get any sleep the night before.  I was thrilled to meet Debra Green, a 20 year breast cancer survivor herself as she calmed me prior to my speech.  Thank you again Medical Mutual and to the community of Northwest Ohio for believing in my determination.  
A huge Thank you to Medical Mutual of Ohio for your generous donation of $500 to a charity of my choice, The Victory Center. Here, I am sharing my 2nd speech of my acceptance:


I am so very honored, thank you!
Thank you Medical Mutual, Debra Green and to all who were involved in the process of my nomination. Thank you family, friends and my Victory Center gals for your continued support of my involvement in the breast cancer community.  I am truly honored and blessed to be standing here in front of 200+ people, accepting this award as being a Voice in Northwest Ohio for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Community in keeping TNBC awareness in the forefront. This reaffirms my dedication to keep fighting for all... and for those that are no longer with us.

It’s been difficult for me this past year, as I grieve the sudden loss of my mom whom passed in January, by far the hardest challenge in my life. 
I would like to dedicate this award in memory of my mother for shaping me into the woman I am today... to be strong, caring, loving, compassionate and to be an advocate for others.

Thank you to my husband, you’ve been my rock for thirty years...
You took care of me through out my treatments and made me feel still beautiful and loveable.

My son, watching me being so ill from the chemo, had asked me, “Mommy, when will you get better?”… “I'm trying baby, I'm trying.”  I love my small family more than any thing, and I fought hard to be around for them as long as God’s will.

Thank you GOD for always being near and seeing me through this path that’s been paved for me.

It is so rewarding by being an inspiration to others, as a women surviving Triple Negative Breast Cancer and living life.  My passion lies with you ladies, in helping others and reassuring them, that they too have the courage to get through their journey. You all inspire me in your every day of fight, bravery and determination.

By being a breast cancer survivor, it has made me more aware of needs in the community.  We need to continue to support the organizations in our community that are committed to making a difference in our cause and survivorship.

I wish you all happiness and good health
Embrace hope, Hope for more tomorrows
God Bless
Keynote Speaker too!
My story...
Pink Sisters, Melissa and Michelle
My testimony...
See, everyone!
Thank you Medical Mutual of Ohio!
So beautiful with my name on it, Thank you Medical Mutual!
with Jeanette and her daughter...
My display table..
My husband, Phil and me
Good friends, Melissa and Angie
My mentor, Devorah and Melissa

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Michigan's Dancing with the Survivors 2015

Thank you to my friend, Csilla who was unable to attend and asked me to go in her place to the breast cancer survivor celebration, Dancing with the Survivors hosted by the Pink Fund on October 1, 2015 in Bloomfield, Michigan.  A very nice event with an appetizers and wine reception where I had met some really nice supporters. The dancers were breast cancer survivors paired up with professional dancers for a night of dancing and celebrating life!
The Pink Fund, founded by breast cancer survivor, Molly MacDonald assists breast cancer patients in treatment with financial support for living expenses through 3 month grants approvals.

Sanja and Melissa
Melissa's Warrior Symbol
Molly MacDonald, 
Founder of The Pink Fund
Survivor, Lori Baran
Survivor, Kristy Lynch and her father
Survivor, Kathleen Galligan
Survivor, Brenda Kambakhsh and her husband
Survivor, Kathy Martin and her physician
Gretchen Geist, In honor of her mother
Survivor sisters, Carol Ziecik and Laura Segal
TNBC Survivors Melissa and Carol Ziecik
Melissa and Molly MacDonald, founder
of http://www.pinkfund.org

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Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
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The SCAR Project

The SCAR Project
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Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project
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