Ladies Night 2nd Annual Fundraiser on October 22nd raises $1,200 for breast cancer research. 1049 Member, and breast cancer survivor, Jo Ann Olsen shares her experience at the meeting. My name is Jo Anne Olsen and I have been a member of our Union for 11 years. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a breast cancer survivor. In August of 2002, I was taking a shower and I found a lump on my breast. Two weeks later, I had a core biopsy done and the results were that I had invasive ductal carcinoma. My life had changed forever as I began the whirlwind that women experience upon diagnosis. When you receive those most feared words, you enter an un-chosen sisterhood. The very word cancer brings images of suffering and death. Fortunately, breast cancer does not have to equal death. Nonetheless, in an instant your wonderfully routine and mundane life is turned to chaos. I had to decide on mastectomy or lumpectomy with radiation. I was also advised that 6 months of chemotherapy was the recommended course of action. To say the least, I was very frightened and I had to make some of the most important decisions of my life at the lowest point of my life. But knowledge is power and as hard as it was, I had to do some research. I decided to have a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery using breast implants. Although my cancer was only in my left breast, I decided, for my peace of mind, that I would have both of my breasts removed. My choice was radical but I felt I was willing to fight this fight as hard as I could, but I only wanted to fight this fight one time. I then underwent six months of chemotherapy and hormone treatment. First five years of Tamoxifen and then Arimidex. My prognosis is excellent as my cancer was diagnosed very early. It was classified as stage one, stage zero being the lowest and stage four the worst. My cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, traveling through the lymph system is the most common way that cancer spreads from one place in your body to another. When breast cancer is detected early, it is over 90% curable. I’m going to repeat that because it is the most important thing for women to know, when breast cancer is discovered early, it is 90% curable. Unfortunately, this year approximately 200,000 women will be diagnosed and 40,000 will die. We don’t know what causes breast cancer and we don’t know how to prevent it. Our only defense is to find it in its earliest stages and deal with it. The American Cancer Society recommends monthly breast exams by women starting in their 20’s, yearly clinical exams by a doctor and mammograms starting at age 40, 35 if you have a family history of breast cancer. I do have to tell you I had a mammogram and sonogram of my breasts 6 months before I found the lump. My mammogram and sonogram were clear. I was not doing a breast exam when I found the lump, merely taking a shower. I tell all women to know their bodies. You must be your own advocate for your health. If you have any concerns or suspicions, see a doctor. Remember that 85% of all lumps are benign. The experience holds an important lesson. Life is short and precious. Once a diagnosis is made and treatment has occurred, you return from the strange journey of treatment to a life renewed…another chance to begin. Though no one can guarantee a cure, many survivors feel breast cancer is a gift that can enrichen the rest of their lives. When I was first diagnosed with this disease, I often cried “Why?” I’m still asking that question but perhaps I am suppose to be out here talking about this and spreading the word about early detection. Thanks to Bob Shand and Robin Rodriguez for giving me this opportunity. I appreciate the Union putting together this fundraiser. Obviously, it is important to me, and to my daughter and to my sister and to all women that we find a way to prevent this disease from striking and to find a way to cure it when it does.