BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women with the exception of skin cancer, and residents and staff at Genesis Village are helping to raise awareness.
Each month, Genesis Villages works with Partners in Home Care to provide residents with an informative session on a health-related topic. On October 18, residents were invited along with family and friends to a breast cancer awareness session.
“We were able to go over a number of things, including prevention, and then at the end we can open it up for discussion and learn more from each other,” said Michelle Oedy-Brown, the director of sales and marketing for Genesis Village.
Allison Roller from Partners in Home Care provided attendees with information on the topic, including prevention and early detection.
“The purpose and goal of this topic is to provide knowledge of breast health and share the importance of routine regular screenings in the aging population to improve the breast cancer survival rate,” she said.
In addition to the information from Roller, attendees also heard from fellow Genesis Village residents, including Linda Miller, Barbara Mitchell and Donna Prieskorn.
The three offered their personal experiences with breast cancer and how those experiences could help others.
“I always went to my mammograms, which is really important, so it was early detection. At the time they called me on the phone, I remember where I was sitting at work, to tell me it was cancer,” Mitchell said.
She went through surgery and radiation and has been a breast cancer survivor since 2002.
For Miller, it’s a similar story.
“I went for my usual mammogram, and I thought, ‘oh, in a week I’ll find out what’s going on,’ but the next day I got a phone call that said ‘you need to come in for more X-rays,’” Miller recounted.
Surgeons removed the lymph nodes on the affected side, and she chose to receive radiation therapy in 2016.
Their experiences with the disease don’t stop there.
Both have had family members receive a breast cancer diagnosis and also go through treatment for the disease.
The two have spent many years raising awareness and learning more about the disease.
They’ve also witnessed the changes in technology over the years.
“They now even have mobile trucks, so it’s easier for women to get a mammogram,” Miller noted.
Most importantly, women should do routine self-checks, feeling for lumps, looking for discoloration or a change in skin texture and being aware of pain in the area, the session advised.
“I believe in getting your mammograms because without them, I would not have known,” Mitchell added.
Everyone is different when it comes to their experience, but being willing to talk about it has helped them and others.
“You’re not alone. There’s a whole sisterhood,” Mitchell said.
Additionally, care packages they’ve received at the hospital and books were helpful for them personally. One book that Miller recommends is Just Get Me Through This! by Deborah A. Cohen and Robert M. Gelfand.
“You just have to learn to roll with the punches,” Miller added about her experience.
When offering up their personal stories to the residents and other attendees at Genesis Village, Mitchell, Miller and Prieskorn were also joined by Oedy-Brown, who, in addition to her work at Genesis Village, runs an apparel shop, Blessed & Beachy.
She made and created apparel for the speakers and provided a few to give away at the event, too.
“We have merch for a cause on my website and anything that is purchased from that in the month of October, I’m giving 15 percent to The Victory Center,” Oedy-Brown said of the local organization that provides support and programs to cancer patients. “I love what they do, and they have been a wonderful resource for people going through breast cancer.”
Oedy-Brown said she learned from her parents how important it is to support the community whenever possible and help others when they are going through hard times.
Her merchandise can be found at blessedandbeachy.com.
Genesis Village is located at 2429 S. Reynolds Rd. in Toledo.