Survivors Bond Together To Make Strides – QNS.com

Survivors Bond Together To Make Strides

In 2002, only a week after Amy Silverstein underwent her first chemotherapy treatment to fight breast cancer, she visited family in Virginia and had a trip to forget.
While sitting inside her mother’s house one day, Silverstein noticed her hair beginning to shed and apologized each time another strand fell to the floor. She tried to hide her head underneath a hat, but on her way back to New York with her husband, Rich, airport security made a request that might have brought a weaker person to tears.
“The agent asked me to remove my baseball cap,” Silverstein said on September 22 at St. John’s University, a flagship sponsor of this month’s breast cancer walkathon down Queens Boulevard. “Of course, my hat had to get stuck behind a suspicious bag. Thank goodness Rich went before me and put his hat on my head.”
Silverstein, then 35, smiled politely at the agent, but deep inside she was embarrassed at having to reveal her balding head to a group of strangers.
According to Dr. Karen Karsif, director of the breast center at New York Hospital Queens, one in eight women in the United States experience the same awkward moments every day.
Silverstein survived thanks to her sense of humor and support from family and friends, but others face the disease alone and uncertain.
They struggle with the notion that they somehow brought the cancer upon themselves and missed all the warning signs. They wonder how so much pain could come from such a small lump. They worry about losing their breasts, their sex appeal and their femininity. They question whether life will ever be the same again.
“The reason that this disease is so scary, and the reason that it pushes so many panic buttons, is because what it does to women’s psyche,” Karsif said. “Women who come in, they’re physically healthy — I know they’re going to be fine. It’s the mental aspect of this disease that is so challenging.”
When hundreds of people gather at the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walkathon on October 16, Karsif said, they will be donating much-needed dollars to an excellent cause.
“St. John’s is extremely proud to serve as a flagship sponsor for this year’s Cancer Walk,” said Joseph Sciame, the school’s vice president for community relations. “Our students are energized about this walk annually and…it also evidences the concern of an entire university regarding the needed research to find a cure for cancer.”
Most of all, walkers will be sending a powerful message to women currently undergoing treatment:
“You can survive this,” Karsif said.
Nicholas Hirschon is a freelance writer.

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