Breast cancer patients often find rehabilitation and recovery to be a long, arduous process. It can be hard to get back into a normal routine after going through the countless chemotherapy sessions and surgeries that often come with cancer rehabilitation. One survivor from Old Hickory, Tennessee set out to prove that breast cancer doesn't have to keep patients from doing what they love.
Cathey Helton, a breast cancer survivor that had gone through five surgeries in the span of a year, refused to let her illness keep her on the sidelines. Helton had always loved playing golf, and was so determined that she entered a golf tournament only four days after undergoing her final breast cancer surgery.
Helton's cancer journey had been long and grueling. In addition to five breast cancer surgeries, she had gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and 35 different radiation treatments. She went through all of this in a little over one year. Still, Helton refused to let the diseases keep her from her passion any longer.
Only four days after her final surgery, Helton signed up for the annual Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition (TBCC) Celebration of Life Golf Classic at the Hermitage Golf Course. This golf tournament fundraiser had raised over 2 million dollars for TBCC's programs and services over the past two years, a cause which was near and dear to Helton's heart.
Helton went into the tournament with no expectations, and attempted to take it easy on her first round back. But that didn't last very long, as she finished off the tournament with a hole-in-one on hole 17. The hole itself was no walk in the park. The hole was 84 yards, with the pin placed near the back of the green. According to teammates of Helton, the hole was also incredibly hard to see. But that didn't stop Helton from hitting a hole-in-one with her five-iron off of the tee. A hole-in-one is often times difficult for professionals to pull off, which made Helton's shot that much more impressive.
While a hole-in-one is always a special occurrence, this one was especially so. Helton later realized that she had hit the hole-in-one with a special pink ribbon ball used for the charity tournament, which she had never hit before. There was also a huge pink ribbon painted next to the 17th hole of the course. Helton says she took the hole-in-one as a sign of divine intervention telling her to play golf again.
Breast cancer is a terrible disease for anyone and their loved ones, and sadly claims many lives each year. Even for survivors, the radiation treatments and surgeries can leave one fatigued and exhausted. Many breast cancer patients worry that even if they survive the disease, they will never get back to doing what they once loved. Helton's story shows that there is hope for breast cancer survivors everywhere, and that the disease does not have to keep them sidelined forever.
How to Help Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors
Many organizations like the TBCC work tirelessly to provide benefits and services to breast cancer patient and survivors across the country. A great way to help breast cancer patients is to donate some of your time/and or money to one of these organizations. Below are a few nationally recognized breast cancer charities, as well as an explanation for the services they provide.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation
One of the most widely recognized breast cancer associations, the NBCF is well known for their helpful programs and services (which are detailed below).
Beyond the Shock Program - Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can be a truly terrifying experience, and can leave many stumped on what to next. The NBCF's Beyond the Shock program seeks to give patients a better understanding of the disease. The program features educational videos, survivor stories, and allows patients to get answers for their most pressing questions.
National Mammography Program - The NBCF partners with medical facilities across the country to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services for impoverished women.
Patient Navigator Program - The patient navigator program helps by guiding patients through the cancer care system in order to ensure they get the proper treatment for their needs. The patient navigation program helps patients overcome the barriers of cost, fear, and misinformation surrounding breast cancer and its prevention.
Breast Health Education - The NBCF seeks to educate women about the signs of breast cancer and allows them to take control of their breast health. The organization offers in-person training sessions, educational pamphlets and other materials, and online courses and training modules.
Breast Cancer Research - The NBCF continually funds targeted breast cancer research. This research includes attempts to determine biomarkers (making it easier to detect breast cancer early), finding the best ways to educate health professionals on effective breast cancer treatment, and attempting to find better treatment options and ultimately a cure.
These programs are of course all offered for free and are offered all across the country.
Susan G. Komen For the Cure
A charity that is often credited with starting the breast cancer movement, the Susan G. Komen foundation was founded after Susan Goodman Komen died of breast cancer at the age of 36. Her younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker, started the organization in her sister's honor. The organization broadly seeks to reduce the current number of breast cancer in the U.S. by 50% or more. The organization does this by raising funds, raising awareness and spreading critical information, funding important research, and providing free mammograms and tests across the country.
National Breast Cancer Coalition
The organization that was responsible for holding the golf tournament mentioned in the story above. The organization seeks to gain information on how to end breast cancer by January 1st of the year 2020. The organization often holds fundraisers and charity events to raise funds going towards research and education and outreach. The NBCC advocates for breast cancer patients which has resulted in 2.89 billion dollars from the federal government going towards breast cancer programs and research. The NBCC is primarily political in its motivations, seeking to advocate for increased breast cancer care services and research (it does not however have a specific political affiliation).
Which organization you choose to support is up to you (or you could always support them all in some way!). These and other organizations are working hard to end breast cancer through awareness and research, and donating even a little time or money can make a difference in eradicating this terrible disease.
Cathey Helton's story gives hope that breast cancer survivor's lives can return to normal, no matter how much treatment they undergo. Helton's and other survivor's rehabilitation often depends on services and research that is quite expensive. Donating time or money to the organizations above can go a long way towards ensuring that Helton and other survivors live a long and happy life after their diagnoses.