A Glimmer of Hope.
by Priscilla Miller
Two years ago, Joyce Stolowski began experiencing breast pain. She had a premonition at that time, that something was seriously wrong and called her doctor. When Joyce’s sister learned that the doctor couldn’t see her for three weeks, she made a telephone call to Dee Lynch, co founder of the Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer Prevention.
Within an hour, Dee returned the call. She had made arrangements for Joyce to be seen by a doctor the next day. The doctor immediately ordered a mammogram and just as Joyce suspected, the news was not good. She says, “When you hear the word cancer you think, I’m going to die.” A few days later, the Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer Prevention had arranged for her to be seen by a surgeon and oncologist. She underwent a mastectomy and then chemotherapy, but when her cancer did not respond to traditional treatments, Joyce was told her condition was “terminal.”
After hearing such news, many people would simply resign themselves to the fact that they were dying, put their affairs in order and wait for the inevitable. But this is not the case with Joyce. She is a fighter and says, “I wanted to give up a couple of times, but I want to live.” As a result she became her own advocate, asking questions,searching the web, calling medical centers and reading anything she could get her hands on, that might offer a glimmer of hope.
When she heard about a school affiliated with the University of Texas, by the name of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center located in Houston Texas, that was doing clinical trials involving “cutting edge technology” Joyce knew this was her last hope. She had to give it a try. She called the facility repeatedly and sent numerous e-mails.
The oncologist that the Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer had been instrumental in originally arranging for Joyce to receive treatment from, advised her that the trial study, was a positive approach for her to pursue. He consulted with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to verify that Joyce had only months to live and that no such clinical trials relating to breast cancer are available in Michigan at this time.
Joyce’s persistence finally paid off. A few months later, she received word that she had been accepted to take part in a “targeted study” in which her stem cells would be harvested and then after destroying the diseased cells, the healthy stem cells, would be reintroduced back into her body in an effort to destroy the cancer that threatens her life.
Joyce says, “I encourage anyone in my position not to give up, to seek clinical trials because that’s how cures are discovered. Five years ago we didn’t have a vaccine for cervical cancer and today, thanks to research we do.”
The Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer Prevention was able to help arrange for her to fly to Houston and to provide her with some financial assistance, for help with her expenses while there.
Joyce flew to Houston on October sixth. When she returns and regains her strength, it is her intention to become an advocate and help others fight this dread disease. She hopes to join the Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer Prevention’s Education Program and not only stress the importance of having annual mammograms, but wants to help educate breast cancer patients, as to what types of resources are available and to draw from her own experience, with the clinical trial she is currently undergoing.
The hope that sustains Joyce at this time, was made possible in part, by the fundraising efforts of the all volunteer, not for profit Antrim County High Tea For Breast Cancer Prevention and its many generous contributors.