Meet Our 2016 Fabulous Four Winners!
We are happy to announce the winners of the 2016 Fabulous Four essay contest! Get to know these special women as you read their stories below.
Joyce Harris: Kokomo, Indiana
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
I remember how my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest, walking into the bowling center last year not knowing anyone, and yet hoping to get on a team. As a pastor in the community, I desired a night away from church, doing something I enjoyed, even though I hadn't bowled for over 8 years. Inwardly, I was fighting against my feelings of inadequacy. Initially I was told all teams were full, yet I received a call later that night saying a team of 3 ladies needed a fourth person. Upon showing up the following week, I found out that I was bowling pink. My team sponsor was a local tattoo and body piercing salon, and we would be wearing pink shirts! Imagine the conversations at church when I shared with them my team shirt and name! As I was placed with this team, I felt a connection with the ladies and my feelings of inadequacy were bowled over. Besides an extreme enjoyment of my teammates, I joked that I really did belong with this team since I had my ears pierced in elementary school, and had radiation tattoos from my breast cancer journey in 2000. Bowling pink was no mistake. With no family history, I was diagnosed at age 38 as an independent, never-married, yet fully engaged giver in my work. After fighting through surgery, chemo and radiation, I believe my life was saved for a purpose. I learned to embrace the community of love and support which walked with me through the most challenging season of my life. This love and support empowered me to conquer or bowl over any doubts within. I found myself willing to take more risks, which led me to go back to school, to change careers, to fall in love leading to a dream wedding and to bowl again! I have been given many opportunities in my community to be with those newly diagnosed with cancer. I have walked into homes and hospital rooms to simply love, pray and support others in their newest challenges of their cancer journey. Just as I have bowled over my own doubts, inadequacies and fear, I know it is no mistake that I am a part of "team pink," in my community! I know I have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others. I enjoy bowling pink, and look forward to future pink opportunities of blessing and being with others!
Katie Pogue: Saginaw, Texas
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
2013, just barely 40 years old and I heard those words we all dread. And not just cancer, but aggressive relatively new Triple negative breast cancer. The next year would be spent learning a vocabulary I never wanted to learn. I learned about surgeries, drugs, chemo, ports, side effects, genetic testing, and all while trying to raise and protect two innocent girls! I learned how to manage a disease that can take over your life, without letting it take over mine! Even when my body was broken and my spirit was crushed I had to stay strong whether I wanted to or not! My girls have now become high risk before they have even had a chance to understand what being a woman is all about, for this reason finding a cure is crucial! I've participated in the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk for the past 2 years and my team has raised over $10,000 in the hopes that my girls never understand this disease that I worked so hard to protect them against. Research is the only reason TNBC can be successfully treated, and the reason I'm here today happy, healthy, and cancer free! I am thankful for any and every effort that is working to put an end to breast cancer. I would be honored to help celebrate being a step closer to a world without breast cancer.
Marisol Guerrero: Rosenberg, Texas
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
Why I bowl PINK! When I was 19 years old, I had my first experience with lumps in my breasts. Since there were more than one at that time, I had bilateral tumor extractions, which were all benign lesions. In January 2005, I was 24 years old and giving myself monthly breast exams while in the shower. That January I felt a brand new lump. It felt like it was the size of a lentil bean. After just 2 months, the lump seemed to have grown significantly. I made an appointment with the same breast surgeon that treated me 5 years prior. He was a great physician and has since retired. He completed an ultrasound and a mammogram of the breast, and noticed the lump as well. In May 2005, my surgeon diagnosed me with Cystosarcoma Phyllodes (Phyllodes Tumor), a fast-growing rare breast cancer lump. Its grade, size and shape were documented, and by June 21, 2005 I went under the knife. I wasn't scared since I had had tumors before....but not this fast-growing. I had a wide local excision of the left breast, and the doctor extracted the lump which was the size of a big lime. In less than 10 days after the surgery, the doctor confirmed the diagnosis. I didn't have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation, as the wide local excision is the best and first treatment for this diagnosis. If it comes back, I'll have to undergo radiation and a possible mastectomy. I take one day at a time. This year I went in for my 10-year checkup, and things have changed after several mammograms, ultrasounds, and a biopsy. Being that my diagnosis puts me in the rare category of "all tumors are potentially cancerous. During this year's biopsy on a new tumor, I had a tumor marker inserted, and it turned out I was highly allergic to it. ", I had to have surgery to remove 2 new lumps in my right breast on 09/23/2015. After such a long 4 months (July -October 2015), I am now tumor-free and cancer free for 10 years now!!! The one thing I want you to get from my story is to know your breasts. KNOW YOUR BREASTS!! Men and women! Do yourself exams. See a doctor if you find a lump. It could save your life. I pray that my story helps to save someone else. Please share my story with your loved ones. I'd love to win this once in a lifetime opportunity...and win my own bowling ball!! I love to bowl, and would love to be on a forever sisters team!!
Annissa Grooms: Manchester, Ohio
Fabulous Four Experience Winner
Diagnosed in December 2012 with Stage 2A breast cancer at the age of 40 years young. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction on January 2nd, 2013. Upon discovering cancer cells during my sentinel node biopsy, 4 rounds of chemo followed. My hair fell out one week after my first treatment, I had an allergic reaction to the chemo drugs and my body reacted with red hives, head to toe. Nothing a round of steroids couldn't cure, so 3 more rounds, I did endure. Silicone implants replaced my tissue expanders in June 2013, and by August I got skin grafted nipples. Tamoxifen was my new daily drug. I had gained a new outlook on life, thankful and blessed...I had survived! Jumped out of an airplane to celebrate, rallied a relay for life team, had the opportunity to be on the local news not once but twice raising breast cancer awareness, and even my beautiful 12 year old daughter got inspired and donated the money from her 4-H project market hog during our county fair that year. I felt like the poster girl for Breast Cancer Awareness in our small community. I had came, I had fought, & I had kicked cancers butt! I took up running with my best friend and the following year we ran the Cincinnati Race for a Cure. Once again, we were interviewed on the Cincinnati news, an update of sorts on my progress. The fall of 2014 I fell and injured my shoulder. By the end of February the pain was unbearable and I decided I must have torn my rotator cuff in the fall. I scheduled an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor. X-rays were taken, expecting to hear the news of a torn rotator I was completely devastated when he said the word "tumor" instead. You cannot say "tumor" to a cancer survivor I informed him. He hung his head, and asked for my oncologists phone number. A bone scan & MRI were ordered and I left hysterical. The bone scan and MRI confirmed my worse fears, my breast cancer was back. It had spread to my bones. Within days I was undergoing surgery on my shoulder to remove as much tumor as possible. Indeed it was cancer. Fed by estrogen, my one remaining ovary was ordered to be removed. 2 weeks after my shoulder surgery, I was in the OR again, this time to remove my ovary and tube. By the end of March my mom, my daughter, & myself were on a plane bound for Florida for a much needed break before radiation. I was put on a new FDA approved medication, ibrance, the guinea pig for my oncology group, ordered 10 rounds of radiation to the shoulder and T10 of my spine. When the whirlwind calmed I learned what metastatic meant. Devastated by the thought of not seeing my daughter graduate high school, college, get married, have children....This time was different from the 1st. I couldn't kick cancers butt and declare myself the winner. Finally, I pulled myself together and vowed to quit wasting time feeling sorry for myself, and start living once again. Monthly oncology visits, infusions and medicines are my normal, but so is living each day to the fullest with my beautiful daughter. It's funny how a year ago, I had no idea what metastatic breast cancer was, or what it meant. My mission is to educate as many people as I can about not only breast cancer, but about metastatic breast cancer. I'm hopeful that by the time my daughter is 30 (granting she doesn't carry the CHEK2 like myself) and starts her mammograms, that there will be a cure for breast cancer, so that she never has to worry about living long enough in order to watch her daughter accomplish the goals that every mother hopes and dreams of for their children.