Terri Wheeler, Mary Friess and Beth Yates are three sisters who have lived almost all their lives in St. Mary’s County and are united against breast cancer because all three have had the disease and all three carry the BRCA gene that predisposes them to breast cancer.
Mary, the youngest was the first to get the disease in 1997 at age 31, and it returned in 2008 as stage IV breast cancer that metastasized to her bone. After Mary’s diagnosis, the other two sisters began getting regular mammograms, leading to Terri’s diagnosis in 2007 and Beth’s diagnosis in 2009. Thanks to advanced treatments, all three women are now in remission.
“It was very shocking,” says Terri of their three diagnoses. “It’s a terrible cancer, but it’s a blessing to have each other. We’ve been each other’s caretakers. Our bond of both cancer and love that brought us together.” Once the women were tested and discovered they carry the breast cancer gene, they opted to have total hysterectomies and mastectomies “because our chances of having the cancer recur were so high,” says Terri. Now, they are concerned about their next generations – their ten children and grandchildren, who have not yet been tested for the gene.
In order to fight back against cancer, the sisters are helping to lead Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Southern Maryland. “It gives us a lot of satisfaction to raise money for research and possibly see more advances against cancer in our lifetimes,” says Terri. “Maybe they will even discover how to reverse the effects of the BRCA gene and give hope to future generations.”
This year, more than 226,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease. One in two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer turns to the American Cancer Society for information and help. Funds raised through Making Strides enable the Society to provide free resources and support; to invest in groundbreaking research to find, prevent, treat, and cure breast cancer; and to ensure access to mammograms for women who need them.
WHEN & WHERE: Sunday, October 7, 2012; Registration: 8 a.m. Walk begins: 9 a.m., Wildewood Shopping Center, California, MD.
SIGN UP for the walk: 410.721.4304 or www.makingstrideswalk.org/somd