Hedy Feuer is a two-time breast cancer survivor. She knows that makes her one of the lucky ones.
Feuer was diagnosed the first time 16 years ago, and again two years ago.
The advances in treatment that saved her life a second time underscore why breast cancer research is so important, says Feuer, who will lead a team for Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Women’s Philanthropy members (and others) at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 8 a.m. at Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way.
“I tell you honestly, it’s kind of a punch in the stomach” to be diagnosed a second time, says Feuer, who had no history of cancer in her family. “When I had cancer the first time, I thought OK, we caught it early, I had a mastectomy. I was cancer-free, no cancer in my lymph nodes, no chemotherapy and I thought OK, this is it, I’m done.”
But doctors and scientists know much more about breast cancer now. “Had they known then what they know now — which is why research is so important — I would have had different treatment then. In 16 years they’ve made so much progress.”
Feuer points out that the second time, she was diagnosed with both a new cancer and a recurrence of the old cancer.
“I was shocked. I didn’t know that could happen,” she says. “Cancer is so convoluted, and there are so many cancers, that to say ‘let’s hope for a cure’ is very naíve. I think what’ll happen with research is they’ll treat cancer like they do diabetes. It’ll be a chronic illness” that can be treated but not necessarily “cured.”
“There’s no guarantee,” she says.
After her second diagnosis, she had both radiation and chemotherapy. She feels good now, and hits the gym regularly in an effort to stay fit.
“I encourage people who are diagnosed with cancer to be educated about cancer as much as possible,” she says. “I think education is the key; that way you can make intelligent choices as far as treatment is concerned. I think it is very important for women to be proactive in their treatment.”
The Oct. 27 walk is a non-competitive 1.4 or 3 mile event. “By the time you finish talking to your girlfriends, it’s over,” says Feuer, with a laugh.
To visit the Hedy’s Team-Women’s Philanthropy page, where you can sign up to walk, make a donation or both, go to http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?team_id=1485862&pg=team&fr_id=55770&fl=en_US&s_tafId=1207502
There’s no entrance fee, so people can just show up on the day to walk, she says, “but we always encourage people to sign up, because this way we can show that we have a presence, that we have a team.”