Below are sample publications. Within these links you will find three national award winning articles, one Idaho Press Club award winning article and a link that lists all publication titles. Enjoy!

‘If you have a breast, you are at risk for breast cancer’

Three women relate their tales of courage and triumph

Author: Mary Keating

For:  Idaho State Journal – special breast cancer awareness insert

Date:  October 22, 2006

            1700 words

 “If you have a breast, you are at risk for breast cancer,” said Patti Farrell, eight year breast cancer survivor. “I am concerned about news articles and media spots that focus on risk factors and do not clearly state that all women are at risk.”

Of course, age, reproductive history, diet, weight and a family history of breast cancer are some of the factors that may increase risk. It is a fact, many women who do not fall in the apparent high-risk groups are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

 “I don’t want women to become complacent simply because they assume they are not in a high risk group,” said Farrell.

Farrell is active in the Pocatello community raising both money and awareness for breast cancer. She encourages young women with or without a family history of breast cancer to perform a monthly self breast examination. Further, she encourages all women who are 40 and older to have mammograms yearly.

The three women you are about to meet did not fall into the usual high risk groups. They had little if any family history of breast cancer. Each has an amazing story to share. Each had the courage to fight. And, each has survived breast cancer.

Wendy Baxley

Wendy Baxley is a nine year cancer survivor and she is only 33 years old. She was 24, newly married and living in Arkansas when she discovered a lump in her breast. There was no breast cancer on her mother’s side of the family.

According to the American Cancer Society, “only about 5% of breast cancer diagnoses are under age 40.”

Probably because she was so young, she was misdiagnosed and told it was just a cyst that she could have removed at her discretion.

 “I felt it everyday,” said Baxley. “After seven months, I decided to have it removed.”

Following the surgery, she went to have her stitches taken out. There in the office, alone, she was told she had Stage 1 infiltrating ductile carcinoma, a rare, aggressive, deadly cancer that can quickly metastasize to the bones and lungs.

 “If I opted to not have it removed, I might have been dead within the year,” said Baxley.

Fortunately, the cancer had not spread.

She had a single mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and four cycles of chemotherapy. The reconstructive surgery involved cutting her lat muscle in her back and wrapping it around her side to build a shelf for the reconstruction. It took hours of physical therapy before she was able to use her arm.

Baxley went through the “Why Me?” stage. She was young, she was physically fit and she had just married a wonderful man. They were starting their lives, Baxley was working. Her husband, Paul, was going to physical therapy assistance school.

 “It was really rough. I would not have made it without Paul’s amazing support,” said Baxley. “He was unbelievable, he never looked at me like I was sick and he always told me how great I looked. And, I was skinny and bald.”

Shortly after being diagnosed, Baxley started a ‘Thankful Journal.’ Each day for nearly six months, she wrote down something that she was thankful for. Some days the entries were as simply as ‘I am thankful the birds are singing’ or ‘the sun came up today.’ One day, after working out, she wrote, “I am thankful that I have sweat droplets in my small spikes of hair.”

 “Yep, I lost my hair. It was almost more shocking to loose my hair then to loose a boob,” she said. “It was hard when people looked at me and saw the outward visible sign of my cancer. I could hide my healing wounds, but the loss of hair was very noticeable. It was heart breaking when people gave me pitiful glances and awkward stares.”

Baxley often reflects on her journal when life gets difficult.

 “You know, after all of this, I really don’t sweat the small stuff, I am just happy to be alive and I count my blessings everyday.”

Baxley is currently in the dental hygiene program and is full of laughter and life. She has a vision on the world that many of us don’t see. She believes there is a reason for her survival.

Baxley wants to let everyone know, “early detection is the key.”

Kim Buck

Kim Buck is a two year cancer survivor and currently teaches Title One reading at Stoddard Elementary in Blackfoot. When she was diagnosed, she was a fifth grade teacher.

 “I never dreamed I would have it,” said Buck who performed monthly exams and stuck to the prescribed annually checkups and mammograms. “I felt nothing, not even a lump.”

Sometime prior to her annual mammogram in 2004 a cyst had ruptured inside her breast and was detected. The fluid was drained and she was told that the fluid was probably not cancerous. A few days later, her doctor left a message for her at school and suggested that she bring her husband to the scheduled appointment.

She learned that she had Stage 2 breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy and underwent six months of chemotherapy and 33 doses of radiation.

 “It knocked my knees out,” said Buck. “Fortunately, I had a wonderful support system that kept me positive and active.”

Buck gathered her strength from her friends and family. They went to treatments with her, they brought meals for her family, and they forced her to stay physically active and walked with her four days a week.

 “You know, the 3 Fs can get you through almost anything – faith, family and friends,” said Buck. “And I am thankful for them all.”

Buck, like most chemotherapy patients, lost her hair. Rather then wear a wig, she opted for knit hats. A family friend took the time to make special hats for Buck’s entire fifth grade class.

 “Those kids were so darling, one day, they all wore those knit hats,” said Buck. “They were so supportive. They really kept me going. I didn’t have time to get sick.”

Most cancer survivors have what can be termed a wake-up call, a feeling that they have been given a second chance at life.

Buck has a new way of looking at her life. “Things that seemed so big are trivial now. It is the small things that become very important,” she said. “I enjoy every sunset and sunrise; I even love to watch the geese fly over my house.”

For those that have been just diagnosed, Buck encourages them to talk to people who have gone through it. To talk to those who have wisdom, motivation and knowledge. And, most importantly, talk to positive people.

 “Positive people and positive thinking are a big help,” she admits. “Stay busy and be around people who make you feel good about yourself and thankful for being alive. Breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence, but perhaps just a little bump along the way.”

Patti Farrell

Patti Farrell is an eight year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed when she was 43 years old. She organizes the Drive for a Cure Golf Tournament in Pocatello which raises money for mammograms, volunteers at Break for Breakfast, coordinates the annual Pink Tea event and regularly speaks to groups about breast cancer. She is a passionate fundraiser.

Patti recounted her year long battle to fight breast cancer. As she fought tears, she talked about her then young family and her fears. She talked about courage and she shared her zest for life.

During the holiday season of 1997, Farrell remembers feeling a lack of energy and a need to sleep. Her four boys were between the ages of 4 and thirteen.

In January of 1998, at her yearly physical exam, her doctor looked concerned as he performed the breast examination. He had found a lump. She then had a mammogram and a biopsy. Her worst fears were confirmed. The lump was malignant.

 “The news became even grimmer when I had a mastectomy and lymph node dissection,” said Farrell. “Cancer had spread from my breast far into my lymphatic system.”

She and her husband decided that Patti would undergo a procedure called a stem-cell transplant at the University of Utah. High doses of chemotherapy would destroy her healthy bone marrow which would then be replaced by stem cells that had been harvested after a priming dose of chemotherapy.

 “I had to leave my boys for over two months,” said Farrell. “I was ill after two course of chemo in Pocatello before leaving for Salt Lake City, but the illness I experienced after the first two rounds could not prepare me for the total incapacitation I felt when I had high-dose chemotherapy.”

Farrell not only lost her hair, but she lost her fingernails, toenails and eyebrows as well. There were times during her treatment and recovery she barely remembers.

Because she was so susceptible to illness, she had to remain in a sterile environment. Her sister would hold her up to the window and raise her arm so she could wave to her husband and her children on their weekly visits to Salt Lake.

Like Baxley and Buck, Farrell surrounded herself with positive people, people who truly believed that she could beat cancer.

 “I needed people in my life that had confidence in my life and trusted in my ability to beat this disease,” said Farrell.

One of her friends helped her to encourage positive thinking when that friend hung a bucket up outside of Patti’s hospital room with a sign asking people to deposit their negative energy in the bucket before entering Patti’s hospital room.

Her battle and struggle for life was long and filled with many stories. One such story demonstrates the effect cancer has on the entire family.

She recalls seeing her youngest son’s hands during one of the visits she was allowed to have during her stem cell treatment. They were red and raw. When Patti asked what had happened to his hands, he replied, “Mama, they told me that if I washed my hands enough, you would get better.”

His belief, her courage and the coming together of people for a common goal helped Farrell become a survivor.