‘Go PINK!’ educates breast cancer patients, survivors

Just a couple years after most students graduate, at age 25, one in 19,608 people will acquire breast cancer.

Ann Nardulli, University professor of molecular and integrative physiology, shared this statistic and many others with a room full of patients, survivors and their supporters Tuesday as part of an event sponsored by the Provena Covenant Medical Center. The event, called Go PINK! was held in honor of breast cancer awareness month. About 100 people attended.

Nardulli was the guest speaker and offered insight as to how breast cancer develops, how to treat it and the process that follows.

“We’re interested in figuring out how tumor cells send messages to surrounding tissue and how that tissue responds to the tumor cell,” Nardulli said. “If you can … you might be able to figure out a way to block signals so that you could decrease the metastasis or decrease progression of the disease.”

The possibility of a cure was welcomed with open arms by Reesa Burgstrom, an attendee of the event and Monticello resident.

“Can you please find a cure?” Burgstrom said. “I don’t want my children to have this.”

Burgstrom is a survivor of breast cancer but was recently diagnosed again with Stage 4 breast cancer.

Nardulli said there are now ways to protect oneself. Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising lowers your chance of getting breast cancer by 20 percent later in life, she said.

Jennifer Bender of Villa Grove was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. When she read about the event in the local newspaper, she decided to attend in order to educate herself about what her body is going through and what it will be going through during treatment.

Bender said cancer was detected later than ideal.

“I did not do a mammogram at 40 when I should have, and they (doctors) probably could have caught this before it went to my lymph nodes, and I wouldn’t have had to do as much treatment,” she said.

Bender continued sharing some advice she has for others on how to prevent late diagnosis.

“I think that this is very important in telling people — go get your mammogram; don’t be scared of it,” Bender said. “Go get it done … Don’t wait.”