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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Inspirational People - Arlene

Arlene is a phenomenal woman.  She's a woman whose inner beauty radiates to her outer beauty.  Always willing to help others, she is a woman who clearly has her priorities in order.  She's wise, compassionate, an involved and helpful mother, and of course, a doting grandmother.  She is also a three time, breast cancer survivor.  Her story will amaze you.

In 1994, Arlene went to the doctor for vertigo symptoms she was experiencing.  Her ENT found some fluid in her ear, but thought menopause could be the cause.  He suggested she go to her OB/GYN.  Even though she had just had her regular checkup there a month and a half prior, Arlene followed his advice.  It was this move that would ultimately prove to have saved her life.

After a series of tests, Arlene was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was stunned and afraid.  How was this possible?  She had no family history of breast cancer.  She had also received a clean bill of health just a month prior, by the very same doctor that was now diagnosing her with cancer!  It was a very aggressive cancer - her treatment involved an immediate lumpectomy, and then was followed by a mastectomy.  Her treatment, although very intense, was successful.

Fourteen years later in 2008, Arlene had some chest pain and tingling in her arm.  Thinking that perhaps she was having a heart attack, she went to have it checked out.  She learned her pain was a result of metastatic breast cancer on her sternum.  Her cancer had returned.

Arlene's second cancer diagnosis was even scarier than the first.  Having successfully beat it 14 years earlier and feeling "lucky" about that, Arlene feared her luck may have run out.  She was much more "aware" this time of what was going on, as the first time had been such a whirlwind.  She was afraid of losing all the things we so often take for granted -- the biggest one being more time with her family.  This time, she was treated with chemotherapy.  The treatment was successful.

However, seven months later, the cancer returned.  She was again treated with chemotherapy and radiation via CyberKnife.  Due to the precision of the CyberKnife, it was a three day treatment that didn't have many of the adverse side effects that the other treatments had.  It was a huge success!

Arlene is now cancer free.  Because of the type of aggressive cancer she had, she gets frequent check-ups.  Arlene says her diagnosis taught her a lot -- she's learned to look at the big scheme of things, and no longer sweats the small stuff.  She is happier and more at peace.  Her family means a lot to her, and she credits them for getting her through this.  She says she often feels that she's receiving more from them than she's giving to them, although her daughter Kris said the same thing about her!  They have supported each other through this.  Arlene feels that through her diagnosis, they have also gotten the "AHA moment."

Kris credits her mother's diagnosis as serving as a wake up call for herself.  She makes sure she's getting regular screenings.  Kris says her mother's diagnosis also taught her to let the little stuff go, and that time with family and friends is most important.  She feels incredibly blessed to still have her mother in her life.   Kris has been very involved in the efforts to find a cure.  She participated in the "Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure" race last fall.  The team she organized, with the help of several of her friends, raised over $8,200.00.

Arlene says she truly believes in the positive, and it shows.  She wants everyone to know that cancer is no longer a death sentence.  She believes in giving, which is obvious by her level of involvement with her children and grandchildren. 

Arlene (pictured right), with her daughter Kris and her grandchildren last fall
after Kris completed the "Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure" race.

Arlene is one of those people that you cross paths with and you are never quite the same.  She radiates positivity from her beautiful and caring disposition.  She has a lot to teach each and every one of us - if we will allow her "AHA moment" to also serve as ours! 

Have a wonderful day!

11 comments:

  1. Kristina WesselinkJune 1, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TEARS!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. I am SOOOOOOOOOO glad! You are very blessed! :-)

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  3. Dawn Marie Ballinghoff-MolnarJune 1, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Wonderful article!!! Kris, your mom is an amazing strong inspiring woman-God Bless all of you and may she continue to feel good!!!

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  4. This is such a great article!!!! So happy for your whole entire family Kris!!! Love to all of you!!!!

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  5. I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Great article!
    <3 your daughter.

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  6. Stacy NapolitanoJune 1, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Inspiring article. An inspiring woman!

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  7. Wow - Chills, chills, and chills!! Kris, your Mom is a wonderful, caring soul who I am honored to know!!

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  8. Thank you Colleen for a beautiful article....you are so kind....my hope is a lot of women will read it and have a mamogram every year.....yes we can help dectect this early and beat it!!!! Come on all women fight like a girl...
    Respectfully, Arlene Stewart

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  9. Arlene, thank YOU for spending the time with me so we could share your story with the world. I so look forward to one day meeting you in person! You are AMAZING!!!! Thanks again!

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  10. She is just one of the thousands of reasons why I walk in the 3-Day. LOVE to hear the success stories because it reinforces my resolve to keep walking until we find a cure once and for all! Thank you for sharing!

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