Meet Our 2015 Fabulous Four Winners!
We are happy to announce the winners of the 2015 Fabulous Four essay contest! Get to know these special women as you read their stories below:
Anne Taku: Santa Cruz, California
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
We Are All Connected
I am a 3 time Breast Cancer Survivor. My journey began in 1999.
What is most important to me, other than my survival, is how I have been involved with and committed to the fight against Breast Cancer. I have discovered that Everything We Do Together is connected, and will come full circle in the lives we may touch, seen or unseen. That is the magic! These are some of my experiences.
The year 2009 was marked with my second diagnosis and treatment of B.C. It was late spring, when I was in recovery, that I notice something extraordinary! Our mature Japanese maple tree blessed our yard with 200 saplings. I gathered all of this new life and transplanted them in flats. They quickly became my “Hope and Joy” trees in my journey of healing.
Over the three years of nurturing them, my friends and family asked me, “What are you going to do with them?” I really didn't know. Then, after attending a benefit, a whisper in my ear told me that I could donate them to a major Cancer fundraiser in our community! The sale raised over $1600.00! The trees had new homes, bringing Hope, Joy, and Memory to those fighting cancer or those who have lost a loved one. Those trees were a gift given to me…to give to others.
I attend a weekly cancer support group of beautiful sisters in all stages of cancer. I shared my Maple tree story and a sister reached over and grabbed my arm saying…’I have been given one of your trees!’ The fact that I lovingly raised it during my journey, and now knowing she had been given one for her journey years later, well, we were all overwhelmed with tears of joy! We are all connected.
I volunteer to drive cancer patients to and from their appointments. These patients don’t know me, or, I them. But, magically, when they sit in the front seat of my car, it’s like I sprinkled pixy dust over them! They open up and pour their hearts out regarding their journey! I am blessed to listen, support, and see them smile, and to be connected once again.
My involvement also includes:
- Being a Navigator to a Sojourner in a major clinical cancer study establishing lifelong friendships, and sharing our strengths, emotions, and love, during our journeys together. I was honored to support a very young sojourner, gifting her joy, energy, and love in her darkest hour.
- Bowling for local cancer fundraisers.
I believe that it is important to raise money to fight this disease, but it’s equally as important to share our compassionate human kindness with each other. I will continue to be involved and committed in giving my time, energy, and experience.
I am honored to be an advocate for all of us. Thank you for your consideration of my application for Bowl for the Cure!
We are all connected!
Tavawyaha Batts: Waldorf, Maryland
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
I am a breast cancer survivor, first diagnosed in 1996. I don’t think a person can be diagnosed and not be affected and hence changed. Breast cancer changes your life because it changes your prospective. I was in my early 30’s when I was diagnosed and for the first time I consciously realized that I would not live forever. Mortality was possibly not far off. I might not live to see my two children grow up. From diagnosis forward I felt I would survive even though I knew it would be a hard road. Lumpectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Later there was a need for physical therapy because we discovered that I was losing quite a bit of mobility in my arm and shoulder. My therapist suggested I develop a routine that would keep me continuously moving my arm, since I was diagnosed on my left side and I’m left handed mobility was essential. Low and behold I discovered bowling. I had bowled maybe twice in my life prior to breast cancer but I joined a league, then two leagues and developed a free arm swing that alleviated my fear of scar tissue forming. I realized that breast cancer had taught me to live my life like it mattered, because it did. From year one and to date, I register and walk in the Komen 5K each year when it’s in my city. I've met many survivors and unfortunately known quite a few who have transitioned from this life. It was with quite a bit of fear when 6 years after being diagnosed my mother was diagnosed. It warmed my heart when my mom told me she knew she would be OK because she watched me “breeze” through diagnosis and treatment and if I could do it she could do it.
For me life was good, bowling was great and I was participating in activities, events and fundraisers for breast cancer. I was completely taken by surprise when in 2007 I was diagnosed again with breast cancer. This time no lumpectomy, I had to have the big “M” (mastectomy). I was thrown for a loop but bounced back. Hey, I still had my optimism and felt my purpose in life was not complete. It was tough to keep bowling, I had to drop to a lower weight ball but I made it back to the lanes. In 2013, guess what, breast cancer came again and another mastectomy. I couldn't believe it, not me, not again. But yes, it was here again. Wow. I truly wasn't sure about bowling but after treatment I discovered that it was still possible to roll and I am happy to say I’m still on the lanes. Still living each day for all its worth. Because of breast cancer I don’t feel I have time to hold grudges, life is sweet and I’m looking forward to continuing to live, laugh love and of course – keep bowling.
Chelsea Gilliam: Barbourville, Kentucky
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
When you are an active 23-year-old coaching collegiate bowling, breast cancer is the last thing on your mind. My life was forever changed on September 22nd, 2013. That's the day I first went to the ER for irregular symptoms. The next week was a whirlwind of doctors, tests, poking, and prodding. I knew what was coming before I even heard the words come out of the doctor’s mouth. They don’t normally call to tell you to make sure someone comes with you to your appointment, take people to rooms that arrive after you, or take you to the doctor’s office instead of an exam room if everything is fine. I was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer on October 3rd, 2013.
The hardest part for me wasn’t that I was going to have to go through so much over the next few months, it was having to tell my teams that I had breast cancer. It was telling them that I probably wasn’t going to be able to be at every practice and every tournament that season. I didn’t want to let them down. They took it better than I ever thought they would. I am so blessed to have the group of student-athletes I have and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
The second hardest part was letting people in. I have always been an independent person. I kept to myself, did things for myself, and never really asked people for much help. I had no choice on whether people were able to help me or not. I had to let people help me and do things for me for about 6 months and I am so thankful for my mom and friends that were there with me the whole time. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do anything which would have made going through the process a lot harder than it was.
I had my final surgery on October 8th, 2014. I am almost back to 100% bowling and continuing to build my strength back up. I know that I will still face challenges in the future but right now I am enjoying coaching, bowling, family, friends, and life. I encourage everyone, no matter what age, if something doesn’t look or feel right go get it checked out. I waited as long as possible because I didn’t want to feel stupid if there was nothing wrong. Now I would rather feel stupid and have nothing be wrong then not go and have life ended too soon.
Angel Crosby: Garrett, Indiana
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
At the age of 29 2 weeks before my 30th birthday, I felt a lump on my right breast. We just moved into our new house and I thought I did something to it. So, I waited a couple weeks and it got bigger and started to hurt. I went to my Obgyn and we all thought it was a fluid filled cyst but wanted to have a mammogram just to be safe. So on September 23,2008 I went and had the mammogram done. The radiologist came out to talk to me after and showed me my films. His words were "I just don't like what I see, can we do a biopsy today?" I agreed and was to follow up on that Friday for results with my Doctor.
That Thursday, exactly 2 weeks after my 30th birthday I got a call at work. Angel, the doctor would like to see you at 4 can you be here in 45 minutes? Sure can, I hung that phone up and knew it wasn't good news. I was told those words you have cancer. At that point I was stage 3 with a very aggressive triple negative cancer.
Within a week all treatments began, and if there was a complication I had it and more. Only to find out later I was stage 4 with a small chance to survive. I fought hard and even had a double mastectomy. I had at the time 3 baby girls and wanted to make sure I was here to watch them grow up. I've been left with lots of damage but continue to fight the fight everyday. Cold weather is no longer my friend. So, never give up hope.
I have so much more to this story but I don't want to make it hard for people to read this. I know in my heart that its because of supporters like all of you that made it possible for me to be here today! My dreams are to travel and share my story with others, so that if I can help even one person to continue the fight with hope then I will have made a difference. Proud to be a Survivor and always a Supporter! Thank you!
Dena McLauchlin: Snoqualmie, Washington
Fabulous Four Public Vote Winner
(Wins a 'Bowl Fabulous' package!)
My journey to began December 6, 2011 when my dear friend Jean was sent home. She was a true Warrior Queen and she fought hard. I told her I would do everything I could to fight this battle so her daughters and future grandchildren won't have to fight like she did. I am very passionate about continuing to bring awareness and to raise money for breast cancer research. I started by sharing Jeans story with everyone who would listen.
Jean had a yearly mammogram but her doctor would also do a yearly ultra sound as well. The year before Jean was diagnosed both were clear. Then Nov 2010, Jean's mammogram was clear but her ultra sound came back as triple negative stage 4. What a shock, I remember the day she called to tell me. It had snowed and I decided to shovel the walk in flip flops. I slipped and fell. Jean and I talked daily and when the phone rang, I was ready to laugh with her about my stupid fall. I never expected to hear what I heard. Jean was so strong, I am so proud of her and her fight!
My first 3day walk was in Seattle 2012, I can't begin to tell you how amazing that first experience was. I have a new family that I can count on for anything. My first year I raised about $2,500 and also helped my daughters raise over $2,000 for Row for a Cure. I told everyone about my experience, I wanted to shout it from the roof top and I reminded everyone to get their mammograms. I did the same for 2013 where I stepped up my fundraising effort for both the 3 day and Row for a cure. I love coming up with new exciting fundraisers and I help my friends with their efforts too.
In 2014 I decided to walk both the Seattle and San Diego 3 day. My goal was to raise $10,000. I told myself that when I was successful at my goal I was going to sign up for all 7 in 2015. I raised $10,500 and was on a team for San Diego that raised over $66,000. Unfortunately my journey in 2014 wasn't what I had hoped for, day 1 in Seattle I danced across the finish line and popped my knee. I was however determined to finish and with the help of the amazing medical crew, staff and my husband, I ended up being pushed by my husband in a wheelchair. I went and saw different doctors and got right into PT with the hopes to still walk in San Diego. My knee had other plans and got worse along with several blood clots sidelined me but I went and cheered on my team and all the other amazing walkers, crew, volunteers and staff. I am so blessed to call them my friends and family.
I signed up for all 7 2015 walks and was hopeful my knee surgery would be the answer. I had knee surgery on Dec 9th and have had multiple complications since. I am still immobile 6 weeks later but I won't be stopped by my knee. I have a huge fundraiser set up for April 19th in Boise Idaho, and several set up here in Snoqualmie Wa. My goal is to raise at least $16,100 but my ultimate goal is to double my last years total, so $21,000. I have Faith, hope, and belief that this is what I am meant to do. I Believe I can make a difference even with a bad knee. I have so many wonderful friends and family behind me and I will make a difference.
My New Year Resolution this year is I will be stronger, braver,kinder & unstoppable. This year I will be fierce. I believe I have a journey to continue and I will continue it until everyone has a chance for a Cancer free life. Thank you for considering me for a chance of a lifetime to be apart of Bowl for the cure. What a dream come true to visit the Komen Headquarters, USBC Hall of Fame, and Elite Training Facilities. Let me share my passion with all of you and the world. I look forward to hearing from you. Let's Do This!