Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

Breast cancer survivor helps others get in the fight

September 18, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

October is approaching fast and is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To help kick off the month, on Oct. 6, one local Boardman cancer survivor is planning a huge event at Boardman Park to bring awareness and showcase the real warriors in the cancer fight.

"I am a one year breast cancer survivor," said Michelle Apple from Boardman. "I was diagnosed a year ago. I found my lump three years ago and the doctors told me I was fine, that it was just a lymph node. Soon after my mother was diagnosed with Bile Duct Cancer and I was left taking care of my mother. I ignored the lump that continued to grow, thinking it was just a lymph node and no big deal. My mother's cancer progressed into terminal and she passed away within two months."

That was a difficult time for Apple, who decided to again get the lump checked out. Her family doctor examined her and immediately recommended she go to the Joanie Abdul Center.

Article Photos

Breast cancer survivor Michelle Apple is stretching her muscles as she prepares for the first Annual Breast Cancer Apple Warrior Tournament on Oct. 6 in Boardman Park.

"I was diagnosed Stage 3 Invasive Lobular carcinoma that metastasized to my lymph nodes," Apple said. "I had a mastectomy on my left side and 23 lymph nodes were cancerous. I went through chemo and eight weeks of radiation. That is why I am so passionate about bringing awareness and advocating for breast cancer. Standard mammograms do not detect invasive lobular carcinoma and dense breast tissue. Had I gotten an ultrasound or 3D imaging I could have caught it earlier."

During her cancer battle, she found herself surrounded by a large amount of love and support. She realized the importance of spreading awareness and empowering people to share their stories.

"I wanted to pay it forward and create an annual event to celebrate family, friends, gratitude and life," she said. "The event will be to honor a breast cancer warrior locally and will be called The first Annual Breast Cancer Apple Warrior Tournament."

This first event honoree will be Jamie Milligan, a 43-year-old mother of a beautiful 12-year-old daughter, Ava. She comes from Canfield and was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2017.

Her breast cancer has metastasized to her bones and liver. In the past year and half she has had multiple surgeries and treatments, including two hip replacements due to the cancer spreading to her bones. She is currently undergoing chemo due to the cancer spreading to her liver. Milligan is undergoing treatments and travels back and forth to Cincinnati Spielman Center weekly. She will be having a biopsy of her liver to determine next steps in her treatment.

Metastatic breast cancer is the type she will have to treat for the rest of her life and do so aggressively. Her journey has been extremely difficult mentally and physically. The financial and mental burden of having breast cancer or any cancer has sparked Apple to want to help others.

"I want to annually honor someone locally who is fighting breast cancer that truly embodies strength and courage and Jamie definitely fits that description," Apple said.

For Apple, the selection of Milligan was personal. The two women lifted weights together and both competed as body builders.

"When I found out I had breast cancer Jamie was my inspiration during my journey," Apple said. "Her strength, support and relentlessness gave me strength with my journey. She is truly a 'warrior' and this is why I chose her."

Apple is hoping Milligan can attend the Boardman Park event, but since she has to drive almost four hours to the Spielman Center in Cincinnati for chemo treatments, it is not a guarantee.

The Oct. 6 event will commence with a picnic at the Thomas C. Masters Pavilion in Boardman Park. Apple said it will be a fun family day with fun games and face painting. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided.

The highlight of the day will be the cornhole tournament. Registration will start at 11 a.m. and a team of two will be charged a $40 fee. There will be single eliminations with the winning team at the end getting half the collected money. The other half will go to Milligan to help in her battle with breast cancer.

For this first event, Apple is hoping for at least 10 teams or more. She also hopes to raise over $1,000 this year and hopes the event will continue to grow each year.

As for being named the first "Warrior," Milligan said, "I am very humbled and overwhelmed by all the love. When you have no choice you have to fight. I want to be around to see Ava graduate high school. Ava is the reason for my fight!"

As for Apple, she praises the Joanie Abdu Center and wants to work with them for future events.

"I want this to grow so I can support and help many breast cancer patients," Apple said. "I would love to be a part of Joanie Abdul center and provide grants for current breast cancer patients to apply for assistance It could be for medical cost, wigs, deductibles, travel expenses etc. Joanie Abdul is where I got my treatments and I can say what they are doing is just wonderful. We are so very lucky to have The Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center to deliver the most accurate prevention, early detection, diagnosis and support services available in an environment of compassionate and coordinated care. I would have had to travel back and forth to Cleveland without the center being here locally."



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web