October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every Saturday this month we will be featuring a Smarty Mom Survivor. Our friends at Charlotte Radiology (Get your mammogram!) have partnered with us to introduce you to these brave and super Smarty Moms. This weeks Smarty Mom is Alisha Robinson. Let’s meet her…
Alisha is an ultrasound technologist at CMC’s Women’s Institute. She regularly performed self-breast exams and over Thanksgiving, right after her 35th birthday she found a lump (Sunday). She went to Charlotte OB (Monday), who scheduled a diagnostic mammogram with Charlotte Radiology (Tuesday). On Wednesday we contacted her with the breast cancer diagnosis. On Thursday Blumenthal set her up with a surgeon and oncologist. In mid-September she finished her last radiation treatment!!!
She and her fiance, John, have a 3-year-old little boy – Zane who inspired her along the way. At first she asked “Why me?” But it quickly turned into “Why not me? I have great friends and family to support me and I’m strong enough to get through this.” Family history was not a factor in her young diagnosis and she wants to encourage young women to be proactive.
Alisha’s Smarty Mom Quick Facts:
Family: Zane Begley (3) and fiance, John Begley
Occupation: Sonographer for CMC- Womens Institute. Performs ultrasounds on high risk pregnancies
Alisha, Congratulations on your completion of radiation. How are you doing today?
Feeling great. Felt lump on Sun 11/22, DX on Wed 11/25, 1st chemo on 12/17, 8th (final) chemo on May 13th, 1st surgery on 6/16, 2nd surgery on 7/8. 1st of 33 radiations 7/29-9/14. Stage 2 Ductal Invasive carcinoma, Ductal carcinoma In Situ. 27 negative lymph nodes and 2.5mm cancer – removed. Worked throughout entire treatment except surgery!
What do you think was the biggest factor in the early detection of your breast cancer?
Self exams, knowing my body, and being very proactive about my medical care.
You have a young son – how did you talk to him about your illness and treatment?
I was diagnosed when Zane was just a little over 2 years old. I tried to explain to him that I had a “boo-boo” and the doctors were going to try and fix it. I told him I had to get medicine once in a while and it might make me feel sick and be tired. I told him not to worry when my hair falls out, because that just means that the medicines were working to make me better.
After I had surgery, he was very concerned about me and worried that he might hurt me. He didn’t want to hold my left hand (affected side) because he wanted my “boo-boo” to get better first.
During my radiation treatments, I explained to Zane that the doctors had to make sure the “boo-boo” would not come back. He thought the markings on my chest were the coolest thing. One of my radiation therapists sent Zane a blue dinosaur tagaderm sticker. He immediately put it on his tummy and refused to take it off. Finally on my last day of radiation, I came home and showed him mine were gone. Then he decided to take his off. Afterward, he said “Mommy…my radiation is all done..that was hard work”. That just melted my heart.
What was the biggest help to you as you went through treatment?
The biggest help was the support that I received from my friends, family, co-workers, medical team, and even strangers. On the days I received chemo, my coworkers wore T-shirts supporting me during my battle. They even put up posters with get well wishes that are still there.
What advice do you have for other young women about breast health and detection of breast cancer?
Be proactive with your healthcare. Don’t ignore your gut when you feel that something isn’t right (literally!).
What is your favorite family-time activity?
We love to take Zane out to the pool for swimming.
Favorite mommy-time activity?
What is that??? Actually a few weeks ago Zane went to beach with grandparents for the week. I was bored with all the extra time I had! I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Favorite lunch spot sans kids?
Big Daddy’s with friends
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Best book you’ve read lately?
I enjoyed reading the series of FBI thrillers by Catherine Coulter.
My all-time favorite movie is Pretty Woman. But now I enjoy cuddling on the couch with Zane watching Toy Story 2.
Funniest thing Zane has ever said to you?
Well…he says A LOT of funny things, but recently one night after watching Toy Story, he said “Mommy, I have good news and I have bad news and it’s an emergency. I have a big Buzz but I don’t have a big Woody.” Once I realized that he was talking about his Toy Story dolls, I laughed so hard I was crying. Then of course he repeated it for about 20 minutes!
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
Just recently attended a Toy Story themed birthday party at Ray’s Splash Planet. I had a great time watching Zane and his 3-year-old friends splash around
Favorite date-night spot?
On the couch watching a movie
Best place to hang with your family?
Caswell Beach, NC
Minivan or SUV?
SUV all the way! Love my Santa Fe. It still feels sporty but with all the room I need.
Favorite phone app?
Facebook is my favorite. Zane’s favorite is Vcast videos- he likes to watch the Nick Jr. clips on it.
Favorite CSP article so far?
Well of course the article Dr. Nikki Koklanaris wrote about gestational diabetes and the article about Dr. Courtney Stephenson and the Charlotte Fetal Care Center! (MFMs that I work with!)
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
I think the best kept secret in Charlotte is the dedicated and talented nurses, doctors, and technologists that care for women battling breast cancer. I want to thank everyone at Charlotte Radiology, especially Dr. Gromet and Dr. Sobel and mammographers Susan Len and Tai Mercer for taking such good care of me. Dr. Frenette, Dr. White, and all their staff at Charlotte Hematology and Oncology Associates and Blumenthal Cancer Center supported me from the beginning. A special thanks to Terri Carpenter for being my rock through this ordeal. Everyone at CHS Radiation Oncology was so supportive and cried tears of joy on my final treatment. Through this 10-month battle, I met the most wonderful caring people in the world. They will always have a special place in my heart.
I could not live without my…
My new slogan…”I fought like a girl and WON!”