THE SUN FORWARD ANSWERS BACK ABOUT BREAST CANCER

Rebecca & RuthAnn Lobo Respond to Your Stories


Lobo

During her junior year at the University of Connecticut, Connecticut Sun forward Rebecca Lobo learned that her mother, RuthAnn, had developed a malignant tumor in one of her breasts. Both Rebecca and her mother were confronted with a challenge that has changed their lives forever. Their story and journey through life and breast cancer is chronicled in a book called The Home Team, which discusses the difficulties each faced in suddenly having their worlds turned upside down.

After joining her mom in her heroic battle to become a breast cancer survivor, Rebecca Lobo has learned a great deal about this disease which blindsides millions of American women.

"When Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt helplessness, fear and anger," Rebecca says. "No person can teach a kid how to feel when mom is diagnosed with cancer."

Their fight through a mastectomy, chemotheraphy, and eventually the cancer itself has become a vehicle for Rebecca and RuthAnn to spread the word. They are both very willing to share their stories with you and wanted to hear about your fight, or how you've helped someone close to you in their battle. Below are a selection of some of your stories and their responses to those.

For more information on:
Rebecca Lobo, her book and her personal struggle with her mother's breast cancer, visit:
RuthAnn Lobo, her fight, her plight and her personal struggle and triumph, visit: www.loboline.com
The Home Team by RuthAnn and Rebecca Lobo


My mom was diagnosed with a deadly form of breast cancer -- inflammatory breast cancer. She went through a double mastectomy, as well as radiation and chemo.

Although she lost her lost her fight against the disease, her memory is not lost. Her great efforts during her illness have encouraged me to help the cause by volunteering and raising money for various breast cancer fundraisers.

And the memory of her love of life reminds me daily to enjoy my time on this earth and to live life to the fullest!
Ellen, Newark, CA

Rebecca Lobo: I am so sorry that your mother lost her battle with breast cancer. I think it is extremely important to raise money and heighten awareness about the disease. One thing my mom's illness taught our family was how important it is to cherish each minute we have with the ones we love!


I am a former NCAA collegiate basketball player, body builder and healthy lifestyle woman. No family history of breast cancer. Four years ago, when I was 32, I found a lump in my breast. The doctors said I was too young for breast cancer and just to watch it. My mammogram came back OK. Six months later the lump was still there. I decided to have a biopsy. The doctor came in the recovery room and said I had cancer. It really did not surprise me because I had a feeling inside it was. My husband had a job that required a lot of travel and my biopsy was delayed three hours so I told him to go. The worst thing I have ever had to do in my life was to tell the man I love over the phone I had breast cancer.

I am blessed with a loving family, great friends and a wonderful workplace who all helped me through three months of chemo and three surgeries. I was able to continue working, although I missed more work with each round of chemo. My story has a wonderful ending. My husband and I had tried for five years to get pregnant, with one miscarriage right before I found the lump. We new we would probably not be able to get pregnant after chemo. But, almost a year to the date of my last surgery I became pregnant. In February of 2000 I gave birth to a healthy, wonderful baby girl, who saw her first WNBA game last season.

I am almost a four-year survivor and intend to make it to a 70-year survivor. Thank you for helping to make young people aware of this disease. It can hit any woman at any age regardless of what the "experts" say are your risk factors. Listen to your body and do not let anyone dismiss what your body is telling you.
Cynthia, Lexington, KY

Rebecca Lobo: I've often heard my mom tell other women how important it is for them to know their own bodies so that they can detect even the slightest change. She found the lump in her breast because she was good about doing her monthly self exams.

It is terrific that you are celebrating not only the birth of your child, but four years being healthy. I always enjoy hearing stories from survivors. I know my mother intends to be a 70-year survivor one day, too!


Hello, my name is Penny and I am a breast cancer survivor of three years. At the age of 42, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I had a mastectomy followed by aggressive chemo treatment and radiation. This cancer really caught me off guard. I was training for my fourth NY marathon when I was diagnosed. I felt great at the time -- thought I was in the best shape of my life. Boy was I wrong. I coached basketball at a small D-3 college in Manhattan for seven years; I am an adaptive physical education teacher. My students are all mentally and physically handicapped and if it wasn't for my students, my family, my friends and the NY Liberty, I never would of made it mentally through the ordeal.

It was hard at times, but I survived the treatments and last November I was able to run the NY marathon and finish with a 5-hour and 50-minute time. I have been a Liberty season ticket holder for five years and I had the pleasure of meeting you at the women's Final Four in Philly. I recently participated in the ball exchange on the breast cancer awareness day at the Garden. I love my pink basketball! There are a few perks to have breast cancer! Thank you and the Liberty for being there for me. I intend on being a season ticket holder forever. Thank you.
Penny, New York

Rebecca Lobo: Breast cancer awareness day at The Garden was very moving. My mom attended that game and I know she had tears in her eyes while watching the survivors (and those currently battling the disease) on center court. Thank you for being a part of it!

I can't imagine running a marathon as a healthy athlete so I'm amazed that someone who has battled such a tough disease could accomplish it after undergoing chemotherapy.

We look forward to having you as a season ticket holder forever, too!


Hi, my name is Gillian. About six years ago, a lump was found in my mother's breast. My mother, Nancy, has always been aware of the importance of having a yearly mammogram. During her yearly check-up, the lump was detected, and then the biopsy came back with devastating news. My mother, then 48, had breast cancer. My mother, being the strong woman that she is, took it in stride, where I fell apart. My mother is my world, and now my world came crashing down with the news.

A lumpectomy was preformed and they were able to remove all of the cancer. Radiation seemed to do the trick. Six years later, my mother is cancer free. She is my hero and the strongest woman I know. When others would have been crushed, she faced things head on and conquered.
Gillian, Alexandria, VA

Rebecca Lobo: I am still amazed when I think how strong my mother was during her battle with cancer. When she told me about the malignancy in her breast, she said, "Take care of what you have to do in the classroom and on the court, and I'll take care of beating this disease." Like you, my mom is my hero and the strongest woman I know.


Five years ago this coming December my wife found out she had breast cancer. By the time she found out, the cancer had spread to some of her lymph nodes nearby so she had to have her left breast completely removed, and then undergo approximately four months of chemo and then I think it was two months of radiation. At the time she found out I was attending college and the day she had surgery I had finals so I wasn't able to be at the hospital for her surgery. She has since then received a clean bill of health on every mammogram and just went in (10/5) for another. I probably wasn't the best husband in the world but we've gotten through it so far. By the way, how is your mother doing?
Ed, Oklahoma City, OK

Rebecca Lobo: My mother had massive lymph node involvement and the doctors performed a mastectomy, too. She is doing great now and living a happy, healthy life. (I know because she's gone back to yelling at the referees with full force!) She is approaching her eight-year anniversary and I'm thankful every day that God has blessed her with good health.


It is really crazy ... as long as I could remember, I have followed Rebecca Lobo, and I have tried everything in my power to meet her, but so far not so lucky. I remember when the news first broke out about her mother having cancer, and I cried and I cried for Rebecca, because I could only imagine what she was going through as a player! I bought her book, and I watched her in complete envy, because I watched her get stronger and stronger as her mother fought the illness!

As a basketball player from Canada, I got the chance to go to the States and play basketball for the University of Maine. In the second semester of my first year, my mom broke the most unbelievable news to me -- she told me she had breast cancer as well. I was shocked. I really did not believe that anything could happen to my mom because she had raised me on her own, she had never had any serious illness and she was just a strong, black woman! So I wrote all my exams early and went home to be with my mom.

Then came August when I had to make the hardest decision of my life. Do I stay home and be with my mom, or do I continue on with my chance of a lifetime and play basketball? Well, during the summer of 2000, I must have read The Home Team about a million times! And I decided to go back to school. Unfortunately, I could not finish. With my mom miles and miles away, I could not bear to think she was going through this all by herself! So I came back home and gave up a full-ride scholarship to be with my mom.

Now she is fully recovered, but I am no longer in the states playing ball -- I play for a college here in Canada. But I wanted to say THANK YOU to Rebecca ... because without her and her mother's book, I do not believe I would have been able to deal with what I had to deal with. :) I forever wear a pink ribbon on my jackets and shirts! I also think that the WNBA is doing a great job in raising awareness for breast cancer.
The WNBA'S # 1 fan,

Raquel, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Rebecca Lobo: Wow. I don't really know how to respond to this. I am flattered and thankful that our book could have a positive impact during a very difficult time for you.

Breast cancer is definitely a family disease. Fortunately, it brought our family closer together and made us reprioritize our lives. My brother, sister and I grew closer as we faced the same fear that we might lose the woman who, along with our dad, provided our core strength.

Raquel, I hope I get to meet you one day. Don't ever regret the decisions you made. Basketball is a game ... time spent with the ones we love is irreplaceable.


Just got promoted to supervisor of the Alternative Program at Tennessee School for the Deaf. I was getting back into playing basketball with friends. I was losing weight and getting tired, but I did not realize it was the cancer. In October of 1999, I did breast exam and felt a lump. I went in for an ultrasound and the doctor was saying I was too young to have cancer -- I was 25 at that time. The doctor gave me two choices, one was to come back in three months to see if the lump grew, or have a biopsy. I went with the biopsy because I had a gut feeling since my mother was diagnosed with Hyperactive Thyroid and it was not cancerous. Two days before my birthday, I got a phone call letting me know the lab results were not good. From there, it was decisions, decisions, and decisions about what type of surgery, or treatments.

The oncologist was fantastic and spent enough time with me to go over the options that I had. The oncologist suggested two different options. One was to have a mastectomy and the other option was to have a lumpectomy and auxiliary dissect. At 25, I was not married or even dating, but I knew that someday I would want to get married and have little toes running around. So, I went with a lumpectomy and auxiliary dissect. This was my first major surgery and I was a bit nervous. I went through an ordeal of therapy to get my arm moving as it was before. It was difficult for me in that I could not move my arm very well for about two months, because I wanted to get back into playing basketball.

The lab results showed that they got it all out and it was moderate aggressive. The oncologist suggested chemotherapy and I freaked because I knew that was something that I needed someone to support me through. It took me about three weeks to decide whether to have chemotherapy treatments because I knew it could damage the chances of having children. I prayed for an answer and I went with the treatments. The days that I had the treatments were not pleasant. I had a wonderful family supporting me through these times. I really never knew about their unconditional love and support for me because of my deafness. My mother would come up to Knoxville every time I had treatments. The time I had spent with my mother during my treatments was the best I have ever had. Also, I went through the radiation and it was not as bad as the chemotherapy.

The times I have spent with my family during the treatments were tremendously awesome and I have come to love my family even more and learned how they really feel about me, not just the deafness!

Also, I had more support from my friends at Tennessee School for the Deaf and especially Michelle Swaney, who interpreted the whole time that I went through.

I remembered during my second chemotherapy, I received an inspiration card out of blue from Michelle Marciniak, who reminded me that I am SURVIVOR. I took that as a reminder because when I played basketball in high school, I did not give up the game until the last second. So, I did not let cancer control me.

I pray that your mother will continue to do well with her health and continue to SURVIVE!
April, Knoxville, TN

RuthAnn Lobo: A breast cancer diagnosis is alarming, but it sounds as if you did all of the right things in getting immediate medical attention. The words "chemotherapy" and "radiation" strike anxiety in most people. †As my surgeon said, however, "Turn your life over to your treatment for a few months and then you can have it back and go forward in good health." †You are blessed to have been surrounded during your treatment by people who love you ... an essential ingredient for most of us on the road to recovery.


After watching my Dad, at the age of 63, lose his battle with lung cancer and my sister, at the age of 43, lose her battle with breast cancer, I was sure I was safe. This family had been given enough grief from cancer. I have also lost an aunt and four uncles to cancer. What a horrible disease.

When my sister passed away, I was 35 years of age. I began having annual mammograms. I also started doing self-breast exams. One day, in 1997, I was on the telephone with a friend and I found a large lump on my left breast. Within a couple of days, I had a mammogram. The radiologist found something on my RIGHT breast. I then had a stereotactic biopsy on my right breast. Fortunately, it was benign (thank God!). The mammogram showed "no significant change" on my left breast, since the previous mammogram. When I saw my surgeon, he said I was all set to go (regarding the stereotactic biopsy). I then asked him what we were going to do about the lump on my LEFT breast. He suggested, due to my family history, that I have an open biopsy on my left breast. A couple of days later, he performed the open biopsy.

When I woke up in the recovery room, he came in and with tears in his eyes, he said, "I am sorry, Robin, but you have breast cancer." Talk about devastation! I thought this couldn't be happening to me. Well, it was happening. My family, friends and co-workers rallied around me to help me beat this thing. For that I will always be grateful.

Since then, I had a mastectomy and chemotherapy. I lost all of my hair.... yikes! I had it cut very short, before it all fell out and had a ribbon carved into it. I colored the ribbon PINK with a pink highlighter! (That was fun) I wore a wig, much to my dismay, for only a little while. I then became very attached to my baseball caps! Never to wear that wig again. I liked being MYSELF!

I am very proud to say that I am now a breast cancer survivor. It has been four years. I have tons of gratitude for life, every day. Life truly is a gift. Make the best of it. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think it is an important part of the recovery and survival process.
Robin, Fort Myers, FL

RuthAnn Lobo: How different life looks after a battle with breast cancer. You are right, life is a gift and should be savored each and every day! Keep that positive attitude. †


I scheduled my very first mammogram with my best friend in January of 1999. To our collective horror, we both had positive results, which required further work-ups. We both underwent ultrasound and then stereotactic needle biopsy, which was not at all pleasant. Thankfully our biopsies were negative. My follow-up mammograms have been clear.

Being a health-care professional, it is important for all women to go for regular mammogram checks. You can save yourself.
Debbie, West Haven, CT

RuthAnn Lobo: God bless you and all health-care professionals who offer hope to those undergoing a personal crisis. †Please continue to get the word out there about smart health practices for women. †


I am a five-year season ticket holder for the NY Liberty. I wanted to share my experience with you. My first mammogram in 1990 showed a lump on my breast. It was very high in the chest wall buried deep in the muscle and could not be felt by breast exams from my doctor. Needless to say I was very frightened and nervous, and after a biopsy it was confirmed -- malignant. My doctor gave me the options I had and I asked him for the best chance of survival and he said a mastectomy. I then said, "Can you do it tomorrow?" He knew me very well and had reserved the operating room for the next morning.

I am now an 11-year survivor and very grateful to the technician who found the lump and to my wonderful surgeon who saved my life. Thank you and everyone associated with the WNBA for the fine work you are doing on behalf of breast cancer. May God bless all of us and help us to stamp out this dreaded disease.
Sincerely,

Rosemary, Clifton, NJ

RuthAnn Lobo: Gone are the days when women kept secret a breast cancer diagnosis. †Thank you for sharing your story! †An important part of the recovery process is learning that there are so many survivors out there! Stay well and God bless you. †

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