Women share cancer experiences at luncheon

Bonnie Price caught her mother at the cardiologist's office just after she got her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2006.


"I thought, what better place to tell her?" Mrs. Price joked.

"In case I had a heart attack," joked her mother, Arlene Sukloff.

There were many women at The Augusta Chronicle 's Think Pink Luncheon on Thursday who could relate to that shock and all that followed it.

"Mine is a story of survival in spite of unfavorable circumstances," said Jan Lewis, a retired teacher who admits she neglected her annual mammograms. "To that, it is a clear example of God's grace."

Amy Breitmann was 29 and eight months pregnant when she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. And she admits during her treatment she was "somewhat jealous of the pink ribbon" and the attention breast cancer receives in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But she went on to help create the Lydia Project in Augusta, which offers free tote bags, prayers and support to cancer patients worldwide. She now realizes cancer means the same to all who face it.

"The bottom line is that when cancer strikes we can either view the experience through the lens of faith, hope and love, or we can allow the opposite to consume us and live and act out of fear, discouragement and anger," Mrs. Breitmann said.

That is why faith and a positive attitude are crucial to getting better and surviving, said Amy Winn, the director of corporate communications for University Hospital.

"Hope and encouragement is so important," she said. "Our emotions are like chemicals. They can either heal or make us sick."

Almost 11 years ago, Pamela Anderson read during her treatment for breast cancer that it would actually result in some good entering her life. For years, the pediatric nurse searched for what that might be. Then University opened the breast health center, and she became its director.

"That good thing, it is my belief, is turning my experience around to help other women," she said. "They can look at me and say, 'Wow, you survived. Maybe I can, too.' "

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.