It’s been 35 years since Anne Muir was diagnosed with breast cancer – the first of seven bouts of cancer she would endure and survive. In three decades, Anne, now 70, has battled – and survived – two rounds of breast cancer, two bouts of lung cancer, uterine cancer, thyroid cancer, and axillary sarcoma. This year, her son, Stephen, is honoring his mother’s courageous battles with the dreaded disease by volunteering with the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on Saturday, October 29 on the National Mall.
“My mother is an amazing woman, just so strong and positive,” says Stephen, a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. “I wanted to do something that would honor her and make a statement about all that she’s been through and triumphed over. When I heard about the American Cancer Society and the breast cancer walk, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Travis Smith, the Society’s Manager of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in the National Capital Area, says, “Making Strides is all about hope, and Anne Muir’s story is certainly one of hope and survival. We are so grateful that Anne chose to share her story with all of us and that Stephen has chosen to honor his mother with his service to the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.”
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the American Cancer Society’s premier breast cancer campaign, with walks taking place in communities nationwide every October. Making Strides in D.C. is scheduled for Saturday, October 29 on the National Mall at Sylvan Theatre.
A First Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
Anne, of Bethesda,Maryland and a teacher at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington, D.C., recalls her diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer just 16 months after the birth of her third child.
“Doctors performed surgery shortly after my receiving the diagnosis. A pathology report indicated that there was major node involvement and that I was in Stage 4, not the outcome I had hoped for,” she says. “I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was see my children grow up. My incredible surgeon taught me to think about the healing power of chemotherapy. He used the metaphor of many soldiers (the chemotherapy) fighting an enemy army of cancer cells. That helped me tremendously by allowing me to take charge of my illness. I learned the power of positive thinking, visual imagery, and prayer as I experienced two years of draining chemotherapy. I also came to appreciate the supportive care of my family, friends, and the medical community.”
Thirty-five years after her diagnosis with breast cancer, Anne remembers clearly the chemotherapy drugs and regimen prescribed for her – Cytoxin by mouth daily for two years and intravenous chemotherapy once a week for two years. She also remembers the nausea and other side effects of the treatment and the advice she got from her father.
“I remember my father saying to me, ‘Anne, you must go back to work.’ He told me to focus on something besides my illness. And I did go back to work as a teacher after three months of recuperation,” she says.
Six More Cancer Battles
In 1990, Anne received a second diagnosis of breast cancer. Next, she learned she had axillary sarcoma in the soft tissues under her left arm. Then came a bout of thyroid cancer, then lung cancer, uterine cancer, and finally in 2010, another round of lung cancer. She received extensive treatment for each cancer. Now, Anne has regular body scans, and the latest scan this past summer showed no cancer.
“It’s lucky for me that I was able to go back and follow my passion after cancer,” says Anne, who has been a teacher since 1963. “I have been able to watch my children grow up while pursuing my teaching career. My present goal is to now watch my grandchildren grow up. I remain aware of and grateful for the invaluable life lessons I have learned along the way.”
For more information on Making Strides Against Breast Cancer or to sign up to participate, visit www.stridesdc.org.