October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are thrilled to kick off this significant month by sharing the inspiring story of a survivor who holds a special place in our hearts. Alice Haigh works for IBKUL and has been partnering with us for the last several years to bring our Anthony’s customers the latest in UPF50+ fashion. Her tale goes beyond her triumph over cancer, although that achievement alone is truly remarkable. Hers is also a story of embracing life's highs and lows with the steadfast belief in the promise of better days. Alice's tale serves as a poignant reminder of the power of resilience and underscores the vital importance of early detection in cancer screening. Moreover, it emphasizes the value of maintaining unwavering hope even in the face of all odds. Here, Alice is interviewed by Val, our resident fashion and lifestyle expert.
Val: Thank you for joining us today. I understand that you're sharing your breast cancer journey as we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the 15th anniversary of your survival. Can you tell me what inspired you to talk about your experience now?
Alice: I felt that my 15-year milestone was the right time to share my story, especially during the month of October. I see it as an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage fundraising for breast cancer research. I also want to remind everyone of the vital importance of mammograms and other screening methods. Early detection is key, and I hope my story will motivate people to prioritize their health.
Val: I'm so glad that you are coming forward with your story and serving as an inspiration for other women. What can you tell me about IBKUL teaming up with Anthony's Ladies Apparel to spread awareness about breast cancer via a specially designed fashion collaboration?
Alice: As part of commemorating my 15-year anniversary, I'm privileged to be part of promoting an exclusive IBKUL sun shirt in partnership with Anthony's Ladies Apparel. A portion of the proceeds from these tops will go towards Breast Cancer Research of Florida. The shirt itself features meaningful words that resonate with those who have faced a breast cancer diagnosis, such as "STRONG," "LOVED," "COURAGEOUS," and "BELIEVE." I'm grateful to Kristin Anthony for inviting me to be a part of this meaningful initiative.
Val: That sounds like a wonderful alliance for a great cause. You mentioned the importance of early detection. Could you share your personal experience with early detection and how it played a role in your journey?
Alice: Of course. Early detection is truly the reason I can share my story today. I made it a point to get mammograms every year, often accompanied by ultrasounds. During one of my routine check-ups, they discovered abnormal cells in my left breast. A lumpectomy was performed to remove these cells, and I didn't think much of it at the time. However, a few months later, I felt a painful lump in the same breast. Despite being told that painful lumps were usually nothing to worry about, I went to see Dr. Levy immediately. He performed a biopsy, and, to my shock, the results came back with the dreaded words: "You have breast cancer."
Val: Those words must have been incredibly difficult to hear and contending with the maze of information must have felt daunting! I'm curious to hear how you navigated the complex world of breast cancer treatment and what you learned from your experience.
Alice: Facing a breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and everyone's journey is unique. I'm a problem solver, so I approached it like a research project. My friend, Arlene Marcus, who has a master's degree in education, joined me in keeping a detailed notebook of every conversation we had with various doctors. This notebook documented everything from the initial diagnosis to a year after surgery. Keeping this hand-written record was my way of coping. It's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to cancer care, and everyone processes it differently.
Val: Your dedication to documenting your journey is truly remarkable. Can you share any advice for others who may be going through a similar experience or supporting someone facing breast cancer?
Alice: First and foremost, early detection and regular screening are paramount. Beyond that, when you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, you'll encounter a whole new vocabulary of medical terms and specialists. Facing this abundance of information can be overwhelming, but it's crucial to seek multiple opinions and choose the treatment plan that feels right for you.
Val: That’s important advice for anyone dealing with a diagnosis of any kind, especially a cancer diagnosis. Can you talk a bit about your decision to undergo a double mastectomy and how you arrived at that choice?
Alice: Given that I had already dealt with abnormal cells in one breast and received a cancer diagnosis in the other, the decision for a double mastectomy became clear for me. I wanted to ensure that I was addressing all potential risks. I sought multiple opinions and even consulted a top pathologist to gather as much information as possible. Ultimately, it felt like the right choice for my situation.
Val: Your brave choice to have surgery must have come with plenty of contemplation and no doubt some trepidation. Can you briefly describe the surgeries and treatments you underwent during your breast cancer journey?
Alice: There was a total of five surgeries, including the double mastectomy, followed by hormonal therapy and five years of Tamoxifen treatment. It was a challenging journey, but I kept meticulous records of my medications and progress. I also made the decision to recover at home with the assistance of a private RN nurse to minimize exposure to hospital environments. That decision proved to be a wise one.
Val: Your dedication to your recovery is truly inspiring. As we wrap up, what message would you like to leave with our readers, especially those who may be dealing with breast cancer or know someone who is?
Alice: I want everyone to know that breast cancer doesn't define you. I'm proud to be a breast cancer survivor of 15 years, but it's just one part of my life. I hope that sharing my story instills hope and emphasizes the importance of regular screening and early detection. If you feel something isn't right, don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor and get checked. Early detection can save lives!
Val: Thank you for sharing your powerful journey and important message with me today. Your story will undoubtedly inspire and educate many. Strong women never cease to amaze me!
To read Alice's full story, click here.