Breast cancer isn’t for those in ‘Prissy Shoes’

mprabhu@thesunnews.comSeptember 30, 2012 

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month Among area events planned for October: Oct. 6 | In the Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, 10 a.m. at 4181 U.S. 17 Bypass South, Murrells Inlet. Call 652-8080 Oct. 13 | Flock Walk, 10 a.m. at Flying Fish Public Market & Grill, 4744 U.S. 17 South, North Myrtle Beach. Call 213-0333 Oct. 14 | TREK Breast Cancer Awareness Ride, 10 a.m. at Grand Strand Bicycles, 515 Highway 501, Unit E. Call 839-3702 Oct. 20 | Brides Against Breast Cancer Charity Wedding Gown Sale, 10 a.m. Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes, 8400 Costa Verde Drive. Call 941-907-9350 Oct. 28 | Couture For the Cure, 2:30 p.m. at Little White Dress, 5001 North Kings Highway, Suite 111. Call 267-3349

— When Linda Grabeman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she knew she wouldn’t be able to keep wearing her prissy shoes.

“I like shoes that are pink or have glitter … shoes that are not practical,” she said. “I would love to have a life where I could always wear my prissy shoes | no rain, the road isn’t rough | but that’s not the life we live.”

Grabeman’s road got rough when she was told she had a large calcium deposit in her breast, a biopsy confirmed it was cancer and she said she knew it was time to put the prissy shoes away as she began what she calls her “pink journey.”

“There’s a passage in the Bible, Deuternomy 29:5, where God says ‘I have led you 40 years in the wilderness: your clothes have not worn out upon you, and your shoes have not worn out upon your foot,’” Grabeman said. “I know that God gives us the shoes that he knows we need and he promises they won’t wear out.”

Once diagnosed, Grabeman underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatment, a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Six years later, Grabeman is cancer free and has written “No Prissy Shoes: Trusting God to Walk You Through Your Breast Cancer Journey,” a book of devotions to help women who are dealing with breast cancer. She published the book in 2010 as a 31-day devotional to help women deal with every emotion they could feel throughout the process.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 226,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and more than 39,000 deaths from breast cancer are expected among women in the United States this year.

With October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ACS is one of many organizations working to raise awareness and remind women of the importance of regular screenings.

“The American Cancer Society encourages all women to put their health first. We want women to understand the benefits of eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake,” said Denise Richbourg, mission deliver manager at the south Atlantic division of ACS, in a press release. “More than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year thanks to early detection and improved treatment.”

Breast cancer survivor Linda Kaufmann has volunteered with ACS in New Jersey and South Carolina since 1992 – the last seven years serving as the volunteer coordinator for Reach to Recovery in Horry County.

Kaufmann, a Murrells Inlet resident, was diagnosed in 1991. She had a partial mastectomy, where the doctor removed about 30 lymph glands, and underwent eight weeks of radiation therapy.

About a year later she lifted something heavy on the side where her lymph glands had been removed and her arm got very swollen. She was diagnosed with lymphedema, a build up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under the skin that causes swelling.

“I didn’t know that when you take the lymph nodes out of the arm, it’s harder for it to fight infection. So you have to be very careful – you can’t lift heavy things, you have to protect yourself from mosquito bites. My doctor didn’t tell me that. That’s when I knew I wanted to begin volunteering,” she said.

Through Reach for Recovery, women who recently have been diagnosed with breast cancer are paired with survivors who have had a similar experience.

“The theory is that no one should go through breast cancer alone,” Kauffman said. “Or any cancer.”

Grabeman said her faith got her through what was often a confusing battle with cancer. With each test she took she was given a different, more serious prognosis, a different set of facts. She said women recently diagnosed with breast cancer should know how to deal with the things doctors tell them.

“There’s a big difference between facts and truth. The facts kept changing but the truth was that I knew God loved me … and he would walk me through it no matter the prognosis,” she said.

And stay away from the Internet as much as possible, she advised.

“Be careful how much time you spend on the Internet,” she said. “There’s so much information and it can add to the fear. … I chose to walk in faith in my journey instead of fear,” she said.

But Kaufmann said she is the type of person who likes to know as much as she can about her diagnosis.

“Three years ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. When I told the American Cancer Society my exact diagnosis, they sent me so many materials that by the time I met my surgeon I already knew what my options were,” she said. “But I know I can trust that information. Not all of the information on the Internet is true.”

Grabeman, whose grandmother died at 28 from breast cancer, said her journey changed her outlook on life.

“Being diagnosed with breast cancer gives you a more realistic view of time. It makes you realize that you’re not going to live forever and makes you think of what you do with your life,” she said. “I ask God to help me live meaningfully each day.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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