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From Inspiration Comes Motivation

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By: Danielle Walsh, The Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic

Twenty-four. It's the number of my close friends and family who are fighting cancer, survived cancer or died from cancer. If you add to that all the people I have met along the way who have shared their stories of being touched by cancer -- as a friend, co-worker, caregiver or patient -- the number increases exponentially. With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to be an advocate for them in care, outreach and research.  

Morgan_square_edit.jpgOne story that spoke to me was that of Morgan Welch, a young newlywed who passed away from inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in January 2006 at the age of 24. One of the MD Anderson publications published a story about the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Clinic and Research Program, which included Morgan's wedding photo in the hand of Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D. That image stuck with me.  

When I was presented with the opportunity to become more involved with the IBC program, I reflected on that image and leaped at the chance. Now, as the inflammatory breast cancer program manager, I am inspired and focused on advocating for IBC patients and researchers.

Over the last few months my new role has provided me the opportunity to engage in quite a few activities with IBC patients, their families and friends. Their passion for our mission -- "Teach it. Treat it. Beat it." -- is undeniable.  

At the Paint the Town Pink workshop, Kathy Williams, IBC survivor and ambassador, described how to paint pink ribbons on windows and assist in the effort to raise awareness and money for the IBC program. New volunteers showed up for this growing outreach event and all were invited to help spread the word about this most virulent form of breast cancer. They shared stories of triumph in surviving the disease and of heartbreak of losing an angel to it. Needless to say, I left that event with tear stains down my cheeks, their stories emphasizing our desire for more outreach.

A couple of weeks later, my family and I walked as part of the IBC team in the Komen Race for the Cure in Houston. It was invigorating to be surrounded by so many people with the same hope -- to cure cancer. The team, co-chaired by patient advocates and survivors Ileene Robinson and Kathy Williams, was recognized in the Top 100 fundraising teams for the Komen-Houston affiliate.  

IBC_DWalsh_smaller.jpgMost recently, we hosted an afternoon tea to invite IBC ambassadors to talk about their hopes for the program. Once again, I was touched by their stories of misdiagnosis, lack of awareness in the community and their desire to get involved in advocating for IBC. The intimate conversations evoked the urgency that IBC patients face not only in their treatment and care, but in the research necessary to understand and fight the disease.

Before coming to the IBC program, I was vaguely aware of the battles being faced with this disease. But becoming a part of it first-hand, I've come to appreciate the urgency to share our understanding and awareness with public and professional communities, and the need to identify and treat patients in novel ways that benefit them quickly and effectively.

I share this with you in hopes that you will join us, the Morgan Welch IBC Clinic and Research Program, in our efforts to teach it, treat it and, ultimately, beat it.

3 Comments

Great job!!!!

I am your follower.

We received a number of comments on www.facebook.com/MDAnderson about this post.

Kathy H.
I believe you can find good in even the worst of things! I am sorry that cancer has touched so many people in your life, but I am also happy that you have them to draw strength from!


Michelle W.
It surely has been inspirational to see how Morgan's efforts, and the MD Anderson team rallying and working so hard, have encouraged research and the subsequent survival rate improving for women diagnosed with IBC. That is a wonderful thing. I am happy for every woman that beats this disease.


Joe C.
Great work by the team to get the message out there! So little knowledge, research programs, trials in Aust.

Tom L.
It is amazing and inspirational to see the camaraderie of the patients and families at MD Anderson. It really helps to ease some of the troubles you have. Good luck to you and your friends.

"Teach it. Treat it. Beat it." you is a great inspiration.

Donald

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