Love Local, Newburyport:

Twelve years ago, our lives took an unexpected turn when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Currently, I am 21 years old, but only being 9 at the time, I remember the day when our lives changed. Our family had this upcoming trip planned for school vacation week, but all of a sudden, mom was “sick” and we could no longer go. 

Read More

Meet the Models, SoCal: Patty Nandy & Danielle Cronin

Patty Nandy was very familiar with breast cancer. Her grandmother, aunt and mother all had breast cancer, which meant she was familiar with the brutality of the disease. It’s why, when her mammogram caught signs of cancer, she was not overly surprised. She was 50 at the time and when it was determined that she would not be able to take tamoxifen, Patty opted for a bilateral double mastectomy.

Read More

Meet the Models: Ami Mehr

Her greatest advice to those newly diagnosed: “even when it hurts, you finish the race. You can be in the worst of situations and obviously everyone’s story is different, but you really need to focus on a goal. That’s what is going to get you through.”

Read More

Meet the Models: Francine Coughlin

Francine Coughlin is the definition of a go-getter. She runs her own nonprofit dog rescue organization, is a mother to a nine year old and supports her husband who is a firefighter/EMT. Just before her 40th birthday, feeling healthier than ever, she got her first mammogram. It would reveal stage 1 breast cancer: “there was no history of cancer in my family so it was extremely shocking.”

Read More

Meet the Models, SoCal: Laurie Ruiz

After a strange feeling under her armpit prompted a doctors appointment, Laurie Ruiz was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound, quickly followed by a needle biopsy. Her self-discovery paid off in that Laurie’s cancer was caught early- stage 1, estrogen positive breast cancer. She remembers her doctor saying, ““if you’re to get breast cancer, this is the best kind.”

Read More

Meet the Models, SoCal: Tanja Cebula

While 2001 was an especially trying year for most Americans, Tanja Cebula had an added layer of hardship. Shortly after 9/11, on her twin boys’ 6th birthday, Tanja found out she had HER 2 positive estrogen receptor negative breast cancer. A mammogram at 40 revealed benign calcifications that were initially thought to be because of breast feeding, but a later ultrasound and biopsy would reveal cancer. She notes that she cancelled the appointment twice and feels grateful she finally showed up to her third reschedule. It would end up saving her life.

Read More

Meet the Models, SoCal: Colleen Rivers

For Colleen Rivers, breast cancer has “impacted every aspect” of her life. When she was 15 years old, her mother, age 49 at the time, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. The months preceding her diagnosis, Colleen’s mother had severe back pain, lung fluid and was short of breath. Calcifications in her breast, found through a mammogram, were not known to doctors at the time as precursors for breast cancer. She would go on to have 9 months of chemo: “In retrospect, I think we all knew she was going to die, but she did chemo for 9 months and we are talking like 1995 chemo, so she was really sick.” While her siblings were away at college, Colleen took on the primary role of helping her mother through the illness. While she notes that she “was so grateful I got to do that for her,” it meant Colleen witnessed her mother actively dying. Diagnosed in August of 1995, her mother passed the following May.

Read More

Meet The Models, SoCal: Amy Westland

It’s a testament to Amy Westland’s character that when asked about her breast cancer experience she launches into how her journey could serve others. For nearly five minutes she recalls all the people she has connected with after they have been diagnosed. Noting all those who stepped up during her treatment, she hopes to help others by decreasing their fear and increasing their knowledge around what questions to ask and how to be best prepared for treatment.

Read More