Community & Family Services, Inc.
Newsletter Issue #11 - October 2015
do all things necessary or proper to aid in improving the
opportunities, living environment and general welfare of the
October 2015 - In This Issue:
Before moving to North
Carolina, I didn't really pay as much attention to Breast Cancer
Awareness Month as I do now. I don't mind being transparent and
revealing that I moved to NC in my mid-thirties and before then,
was always told that it wasn't necessary to get a mammogram before
the age of 50. I believed what I was told and simply decided I
Once I landed in
NC, one of the first people I came in contact with was Mrs. Irene
Stuart. I was drawn to Irene not only because of her sense of style
and fashion, but she was feisty - in a good kind of way. I shared
with her that I did not plan to have a mammogram for several years
and all I can say is that after having that conversation with her,
my life was forever changed. I learned more than I ever thought I
would about breast cancer and early detection from Irene; she was
so knowledgeable. You see, not only was Irene a resilient breast
cancer survivor, but also the President of the Southeastern NC
Chapter of Sisters Network, Inc., a breast cancer survivorship
organization with a mission to increase the local and national
attention to the devastating impact the disease has on the African
American Community. I never heard of Sisters, but certainly heard
of other nationally recognized organizations such as Susan G. Komen
for the Cure. Before I knew it, I not only knew about Sisters, but
Irene had me involved on the Board of Directors as the Secretary
and in helping organize walks and literacy campaigns.
I learned so much
from serving others and met a network of phenomenal women who were
connected by a disease that somehow managed to shed light on their
overwhelming beauty. What shocked me the most was that
African-American women are diagnosed with breast cancer at a lower
rate but parish at a higher rate than any other race. Why you may
ask??? There are many factors such as lack of awareness and
literacy, healthcare disparities, and cultural and social
withdrawals. The list goes on...but the facts remain. Irene
convinced me to have my first mammogram at the age of 35, and
again, I don't mind being transparent, my results came back
abnormal. My doctor asked me to come back in for a consultation and
I did. He advised me to wait another six months for a second
mammogram but I decided that I would immediately seek another
medical opinion. I must admit, while waiting for my second results
were quite scary. Thankfully, they were favorable and I was advised
to have mammograms annually - and I do.
I am fortunate to
be able to have these exams regularly and have a job that provides
substantial health coverage, but I often think of the women who are
not covered by insurance. Then there are those who have health
insurance but they never heard of a mammogram screening because no
one is knocking at their door or providing them with information in
a manner that they can understand. While serving on the Board
of Directors with Sisters, I learned that many women in low income
communities were simply embarrassed to have a mammogram or they
were told by a spiritual leader that it was a sin to be touched in
such a manner. Yes, I heard those types of stories as well. Now, as
the CEO of an agency that specializes in serving low income
clients, I have the "power" to bring awareness to individuals
first-hand. I am committed to ensure that Southeastern at a minimum
provide clients with literature regarding breast cancer health and
direct them to resources that provide free mammograms to those who
otherwise could not afford them.
Earlier in my article,
I mentioned this phenomenal woman named Irene. Sadly, she passed
away a few years ago, but I continue to see how she lives on in our
communities. She planted seeds in the lives of many, including me.
Somehow I believe she would be proud of how a conversation many
years ago has developed into me continuing her passion.
The mission continues..............................
J. Whitaker, M.S.A.
1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with
8 Tips for Cancer Prevention
The fight starts
suggests that increased physical activity, even when begun later in
life, reduces overall breast-cancer risk by about 10 percent to 30
percent. It is important to exercise moderately every week.
Research has shown that physical activity even started late in life
can reduce risk by an average 20 percent. Try a 30-minute walk five
days a week to get this protective effect.
2. Eat healthy
to avoid tipping the scale.
tool is a healthy lifestyle. Embracing a diet high in vegetables
and fruit but also low in sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and
fatty foods lowers risk.
time of life when breast cancer occurs is after menopause. The risk
compounds with the added factor of obesity. It is important to try
avoiding weight gain over time and to maintain a body-mass index
(BMI) below 25.
4. Don't smoke.
suggests that long-term smoking is associated with increased risk
of breast cancer in some women.
little or no alcohol.
use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Women
should limit intake to no more than one drink per day, regardless
of the type of alcohol.
6. If you bear children, breast-feed your
babies for as long as possible.
for at least a year in total have a reduced risk of developing
breast cancer later in women.
7. Avoid hormone replacement therapy.
hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer. If you must take
hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, avoid those that contain
progesterone and limit their use to less than three years.
"Bioidentical hormones" and hormonal creams and gels are
no safer than prescription hormones and should also be avoided.
8. Get regular breast cancer screenings.
important to follow your doctor recommendations to decide what type
of screening you need and how often you need it.
Jennifer stated that life for her has never been
easy. She fights so that her son will have a bright and safe
future. When she came to us, she was working part-time and was
falling behind on several bills. Seeking assistance with
finding stable full time work, Jennifer enrolled in our FESS
program. We completed a resume and she began to search for a job.
Soon after Jennifer was able to land a job with Walmart. But
her life got more difficult when her only means of transportation
broke down during her first few weeks at Walmart. Afraid
she would lose her job, Jennifer came to us again for
assistance. We were able to provide her with
transportation to and from work while we also
helped have her vehicle repaired.
Due to her employment history and experience,
Jennifer earned two raise. Despite her higher salary, could no
longer afford to pay rent. This was due to the high cost of her
electric bill caused by poor wiring. Understanding this the
landlord verbally agreed to forgive the past due rents but then
broke his promise.
With little options left we suggested that Jennifer
check on an old application she submitted for Section 8 housing
with the Housing Authority. To our surprise she was able to get a
voucher and we began to search for a residence. School would be
back in session soon and Jennifer wanted to ensure that her son was
in stable home before then. We made several phone calls and
visited many areas but came up empty.
Doubtful we suggested to Jennifer that she talk with
her landlord about her current situation and informed her we would
do whatever we could if she asked. Several days went by and
Jennifer happily notified us that her landlord had agreed to turn
the property into a Section 8 home. He also agreed to make repair
to the property. Best of all, with help from the Housing Authority,
he agreed to forgive anything owed from past due rents.
Jennifer now remains in her current residence, her
son is back in school this year and she just got her third raise
Men can get breast cancer.
For about every 100 cases of breast cancer,
Gibson Cancer Center Outreach
Safety Education @ Head Start
Head Start Block Party
to the 11th edition of our newsletter.
Because it is October we have decided to shift our
focus to the very important campaign this month recognizes, Breast
Cancer Awareness. As you can see we've embraced what pink
symbolizes, especially in the month of October. In this newsletter
we aim to inform and encourage. We must all show our support in
whatever way we can.
Section 8 Landlords Undergo Training
On September 24, 2015 the Section 8 division of
Southeastern Community & Family Services, Inc. sponsored a Fair
Housing and Sexual Harassment training session for landlords who
participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The training was
held in Wagram, North Carolina. Gene Troy, Jr., Human
Relations Specialist and Investigator for the North Carolina Human
Relations Commission of Raleigh provided the four-hour training
session. Mr. Troy also provided the landlords with a brochure and
booklet concerning Fair Housing laws.
Mr. Troy has also conducted Fair
Housing and Sexual Harassment training for the Board of Directors
and staff of Southeastern. Fair Housing training will be held
annually for Section 8 personnel and landlords in the future.
Norris -- "The Fair Housing training was very informative
and timely, well presented and documented. Try to do this every
year! Thank you!"
Boyles -- "The
training today was helpful. I learned things that I was not aware
of. Thanks for the opportunity to learn."
2.8 million American
survived breast cancer
MIRACLE FOR 2 by Erin Ripplinger
I was diagnosed at 23
with stage 4 breast cancer. Little did I know that I would not only
be fighting for my life but the life of a baby, one I didn't even
know I was pregnant with until I was six months along!
The doctors were shocked at my young age. I had the
doctors run a pregnancy test before I went ahead with
reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy. It came back negative. So
I continued ahead with the major surgery and reconstruction. After
the surgery, I had a long healing process. I was on my fifth dose
of chemo when I realized that I was gaining weight and not having
monthly cylces. The doctors blamed the chemo and steroids. I then
realized I was feeling movement like I was pregnant. We found out I
was 24 weeks along! I had been pregnant the whole time and didn't
realize it! Six months along!!
The doctors ran an
ultrasound and it showed that there was no amniotic fluid and the
baby had no kidneys and bladder. The doctors told us that if the
baby didn't have fluid by week 28, its lungs would not develop. I
would go in every week for a test, and each week I would hear from
them, "No fluid. No change." By week 28, I was praying as
I walked into the hospital. I knew that all of our family and
friends had been praying on our behalf and that their faith would
work. The doctor was shocked when he told my husband and me that I
had normal fluid! He did make sure that we knew his opinion that
even then if the baby lived, it would only survive for 30 minutes!
Through many steps and
miracles, our beautiful baby was born six weeks early with
absolutely no complications. He was in the NICU for only 11 days.
My miracle baby is now 12, and I just celebrated my 13th year
cancer-free. Miracles do happen! If you are strong and stand by
what you believe, they do happen! The strongest tool I found in my
cancer battle was the will -- the will to live, the will to love,
the will to believe. You either have to choose faith in yourself
and push through or fear and allow it to control your situation!
I'm so glad that I chose faith!
Copyright © 2015 American Cancer Society, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
cancer kills more than 40,000 American women each year.
My Breast Cancer Story - Carol Burney
years of age, after having my first mammogram, I began a breast
cancer journey that would take me to places in the spirit, heart,
soul, and mind that I never imagined I would go. It began when my
doctor called me after my first mammogram, telling me he needed to
investigate something that was close to the wall cavity, deep
within my right breast. He said "It
doesn't appear to be anything to worry about, but I just want to be
sure." The follow up led to a sonogram, a biopsy, and a few
x-rays. Prior to the decision to do the biopsy my doubtful
doctor and determined radiologist talked in hushed tones discussing
whether a biopsy was needed. Thankfully the radiologist convinced
my doctor and a biopsy was performed.
After the biopsy was completed for some reason, I
wanted to see the specimen they removed. The doctor obliged
me as I looked into a tube to see what appeared to be some chicken
fat and a round dark granite stone looking ball about the size of
the end of your middle finger. Once the biopsy was sent off I began
to agonize and worry. I was unable to concentrate and was very
anxious to get the news. When the news finally came, I was
devastated! I'll never forget those words, "You have
Words have power,
and when I heard those four words, I thought my world had
ended. I was shocked, stunned, discombobulated, and
completely unable to see anything but death as the end result of
the breast cancer. It seemed as if all of the air had been
sucked out of the room, and out of me. I couldn't die yet. I
had an eight year old son to raise. I still had things to do
and places to see, and I certainly didn't want to be without my
family. It's funny how we take things for granted until we feel
that we're going to lose them. There I was, more steps to take
on this cancer journey. Needless to say, there were many
prayers, many tears, and much support from my family and
friends. Slowly but surely I came to terms with my situation;
after all, I could only live until I died. My focus changed
from being death bound to being living focused, which meant being
purposeful, intentional, and vigilant. I didn't want to just
count each day; I had to make each day count!
Part of the cancer journey was knowing what my options
were and deciding what to do. My cancer was a stage 2 and was
slow growing. I could have a lumpectomy or a
mastectomy. I took the 2nd option. The mastectomy was
recommended with follow up chemotherapy twice per month for six
months. I tolerated the chemotherapy well and was able to
work at my Head Start job as I took the treatments.
I encourage women
to: Get regular check-ups and mammogram screenings, eat
healthy, something I'm still working on, do self-examinations, support
breast cancer awareness efforts, and to value themselves and their
health. An Arab proverb states: "He who has health
has hope, he who has hope has everything." I share my
story because I have been shown mercy, grace, and undeserved
kindness. Mercy in that I could have been gone, but my
sentence was commuted, grace in that I have been allowed to see
even greater blessings, and undeserved kindness in that I did
nothing to deserve it!
The journey that began 20 years ago continues to date.
A lot of positive
living and lessons have been learned from my breast cancer
journey. The Creator has allowed me to live to see my then
eight year old son grow into a respectable young man. He has
allowed me to see 45 states out of the 50 states in the United
States of America. I have earned an Associate's Degree, a
Bachelor's Degree, and a Master's Degree. I have traveled
abroad and had the privilege of seeing things I had only previously
read in books. To say I have been blessed and highly favored
would be an understatement. Did I do this out of my own
strength? No! It was my reliance on my faith, family,
friends, and love for the Creator that helped me to get through my
breast cancer journey.
I share this with
you because there is life after a diagnosis of cancer. I live
with the reality of knowing that I will always be fighting cancer,
and that it could come back, but I don't focus on that! My
cancer journey will not be complete until I am no more, and then
the sting of death won't matter because of the hope I have of a
I have learned that life is a gift, use your time
wisely because you can't get it back or live it over. You
must stay focused on the present while learning from the past and
looking forward to the future. This underserved kindness that
we call life, is to be lived fully and with others in mind.
It is love in its purest form. I am, and always will be,
"A Warrior in Pink!"
there are troubles of
Some come from ahead
But I've bought a
big bat. I'm all
Now my troubles
are going to have
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