A longtime educator before she came to NYSUT, she reflected on some of the lessons she’s learned with her struggle after an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma. Since she discovered the tumor early, her prognosis is good.
From The Blog
Making Strides: a personal tale
This was first posted Aug. 15 but a glitch removed it.
Carolyn Williams is many things. A leader in her church and a constant advocate for public education, in NYSUT circles, she’s one of the staffers in the union’s Research and Educational Services.
Last year she was one of the 150,000 women in the Albany area who got a breast cancer diagnosis. This year, she’s a cancer survivor and was one of about 500 participants at today’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kickoff breakfast.
Williams discovered her lump through breast self-examination. “The most important thing I want to share is how important it is to do breast self-examinations and to get yearly mammograms,” she said. ”As women we can get so busy caring for others, multitasking, and juggling work and family demands, that we forget to take care of ourselves.” Her advice to men, “call up the women in your lives and remind them to get their mammogram, believe me they will appreciate it.”
You may recall NYSUT is a flagship sponsor of the American Cancer Society’s MSABC walks and also has teamed with ACS on helping women get free mammograms. Here’s a link to find out about cancer screenings (and if you keep clicking through you can find free screenings in most areas.)
The second most important thing is how important health care is and thus how important the Affordable Health Care for All Act is, especially for women.
The cost of good quality cancer treatment is very high, the price tag is staggering. ”During the course of my nine month battle with breast cancer, I met people who could not afford the medicines that were prescribed to them because they either were not covered, or their health insurance only covered a portion of their care,” Williams said. “I am so thankful that with everything else I had to deal with, that I did not have to choose between paying for medicine and paying my household bills.”
The everything Williams had to deal with included five months of aggressive chemo, having her ovaries removed as a preventive measure, and breast reconstruction surgery. Her mother had breast cancer in the 1950nd she has a daughter she also had genetic testing to determine if she had the breast cancer gene, which fortunately the results was negative. And of course losing her hair.
“I did get one of the free wigs through the American Cancer Society, which I really appreciated, but I soon opted not to wear a wig” Williams said. ”It’s different for everyone, but for me I just decided to skip the work of wig maintenance and just enjoy being beautiful, black, and bald.”
Besides providing wigs, the American Cancer Society also provides free transportation to cancer treatments through it’s Road to Recovery program, free lodging during cancer treatments and a whole host of other support services, including its Hope Club which supports caregivers. Williams took advantage of several of the services and programs at the Hope club in Latham including attending exercise classes and makeup classes. ”Having a positive attitude is part of your cancer battle”, she says, “and the other half is knowing that so many dedicated and caring people are raising money to help researchers find a cure.”
2012 marks NYSUT’s 11th year as a flagship sponsor of the non-competitive 5K Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks, which will take place at numerous sites across the state this fall. In the last 10 years, NYSUT members have raised more than $8.3 million – and exceeded $1 million in each of the last five years. In 2011, NYSUT ranked first in the nation in fundraising, topping contributions by General Motors and Walmart.