Wed, Jan 25|
Meet the MBC Leadership Team
Meet the MBC Leadership Team! Hear their inspiring stories, what advocacy means for them, and what we have in store at SBC in 2023!
Time & Location
Jan 25, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST
About the event
Abigail Johnston is a lawyer, wife, and mother of two boys who has been living with Metastatic Breast Cancer since 2017. She sits on SBC's Board of Directors, is the moderator for the MBC Sunday Webinar Series, and chairs SBC's MBC
Amy Ellen Russell Parliman
Dawn Oswald: She is married and has 4 children and 2 grandchildren. She is medically retired from Occupational Therapy. She has been with SBC for 2 years and serving on the MBC board for 1 year. She has been living with MBC for almost 5 years.
I found a lump in 2006. I went to the surgeon's office for a needle biopsy, which came back normal, but he did say the only way to know is to get it cut out. He asked me, if it bothered me? I said:" no." He then said:" well if it bothers you, come back to see me." I really didn't think much of it. Unfortunately, a year and a half later it started growing bigger and hurting. I was going thru some other medical problems with my kidney and dealing with my daughter's total hip replacement surgery from her side effects from Hopkins Lymphoma 2006. January 2008 daughter had surgery. In February 2008 I had kidney surgery and March 2008 had the lump removed. My doctor called me the next day and told me I had breast cancer. I was home alone and just started crying. I called my husband right away. He was at work. I told him the doctor just called and no other words came out of my mouth. I just started crying again. My husband came straight home. Noone wants to hear those words, you have cancer. I went thru 6 rounds of chemo and 3 months of radiation. I was stage 2. It spread to my lymph nodes. I developed Lymphedema in 2012. Chemo wasn't as bad as people say. Sure I was sick the 1st 2 rounds, but the 3rd and 4th I felt fine. I even started to run again. I ran my 2 miles a couple times a week and coached soccer. The 5th and 6 rounds I was sick again. Radiation was easy, I was just a little tired. I started Tamoxifen and after 2 years switch to Aromasin. My doctor kept me on AIs for 10 years. At my 10 year mammogram, the Radiologist wanted more testing. Which was normal because I had so much scar tissue, but then she wanted even more tests and that is when I started to worry. I thought to myself I feel fine. After the test the Radiologist wanted to speak to me. I thought well that's new too. I waited for the Radiologist. I tried not to worry, but I never had to speak to a Radiologist about my results right then and there. The Radiologist was worried about a new spot that showed up on the mammogram. She told me she wanted to biopsy the new spot. Well shit. What now? Now I wait. I went to my oncologist and she told me that my cancer is back. She explained I will need a mastectomy. I saw the surgeon and he said we will schedule the mastectomy with reconstruction surgery. I asked what about a PET scan? He said my insurance won't pay for the PET scan because I am considered stage 1. I didn't except that. I asked my VA doctor for a PET scan. Meanwhile I saw the doctor for reconstruction surgery and the nurse called me with a date for surgery. I told her no, I was not ready for the surgery. I was having a really hard time getting the mastectomy. Plus I was waiting for the PET scan results. I called the surgeon and asked for my results. He looked them up and said I am sorry, but we will not be doing the surgery because your cancer has spread and you need to talk to your oncologist for the next step. I preach to others, be your own advocate. I almost had the mastectomy for no reason and reconstructive breast surgery. I saw my oncologist and asked her why she didn't order a PET scan. She responded my saying, I would have ordered one before your surgery. Really, why did it even get that far? The stress she put me through. Then she told me the results of the PET scan. The cancer had spread to my bones and in my lungs, that I am stage 4. I took one look at my husband and saw tears in his eyes. I took a deep breath and asked my doctor, "how long do I have?" She said:" 10 to 20 years with all the technology and research." What? Was I hearing her right. I thought to myself I will take that. 10 years. Some people don't get 10 days, or even 10 months. I started on Ibrance and Faslodex shots. After 1.5 years had progressed and switched to Xeloda, then to Piqray for almost 2 years, Afinitor and Aromasin for 3 months and now I am on Enhertu IV chemo every 3 weeks. I am staying positive and I feel good. The key is to not stress out and stay positive.
Kristen Carter is a certified life and positive psychology coach who writes the “Dear Kristen” column for SBC. She was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2018 and is a member of SBC's MBC Leadership Team. She is married with two children in their 20s and lives in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado.
Kathleen Friel has been living with MBC since July 2018. She is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), and leads a research program at the Burke Neurological Institute, an affiliate of WCM, in White Plains, NY. The goal of her research is to improve movement in children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) using novel therapies and robot-guided interventions. Kathleen also has CP herself. At SBC, Kathleen is a member of the MBC leadership team, a regular at many programs, and a writer. She contently lives with sole control of the TV remote in Hartsdale, NY. She loves taekwondo (she has a black belt!), being involved in her church community, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities and people with MBC. Her large extended family, based in Massachusetts, is a continual source of joy.