Chemo Day 20: Fatigue & Morning of Gilad Shalit’s Release

Is it the wrangling of the little uns? Having run in the 5k? The pitiful attempt at riding Sunday? Or the chemo? Who knows, but I am BEAT.

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Chemo Day 19: Wrapped up with a pretty bow

Wrapping up the LIVESTRONG Challenge Weekend…
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Reflections on Survivor Stories: Geri Moran, Arnold Roufa & Ted Brown

When you make it to the “other side,” you feel the need to grab as many others’ hands as you can who are also fighting the disease and take them with you.






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Survivor Story: Theodor “Ted” Brown of Irvington

Heather Salerno wrote this inspiring profile on Theodor “Ted” Brown of Irvington for the Sunday Life section of Oct. 9, 2011:

Breast cancer never crossed the mind of Theodor “Ted” Brown when he pointed out a pimple-sized bump on his right breast during an annual physical.

Even his doctor didn’t think it was serious, though he urged Brown to get it checked out. A biopsy revealed that Brown was indeed in the first stage of the disease, making him a member of an exclusive — and unfortunate — fraternity. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about one in a 1,000, compared to the one in eight women who will be diagnosed at some time in their lives.

The condition is so rare that Brown, a 59-year-old dentist who lives in Irvington, didn’t believe the diagnosis at first. After the biopsy results came back, he paid to have the test redone at three different laboratories.

“I don’t think guys think it’s a possibility,” he says. “It’s really thought of as a woman’s disease.”

Photos by Tania Savayan / The Journal News

In Brown’s case, the disease was caught early, though he did have to undergo a mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy. He’s still taking tamoxifen, a cancer-fighting drug, but he’ll celebrate six years of being cancer-free in December.

Brown says that he’s not ashamed to share his story, though some male patients report being too embarrassed to tell others. He wants other men to know that breast cancer is a possibility — and that they should always look into any potential medical problem.

“I could have ignored it, totally ignored it,” he says. “But when (my doctor) said, ‘Maybe you should get it checked out,’ why not? When in doubt, why not? What do you have to lose?”

There are plenty of ways that breast cancer changed Ted Brown’s life.  After the jump, 10 more examples of how the disease affected him.

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Chemo Day 16: The Eagle Has Landed

Yes, we have arrived in Austin, TX. Today will be our first full day, starting with a bike ride with Mellow Johnny’s ending with a private party for Ride for the Roses Fundraisers for the Lance Armstrong Foundation at a “super secret location.” More later…






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Survivor Story: Arnold Roufa of Nyack

Peter D. Kramer wrote this inspiring profile of Arnold Roufa for the Sunday Life section of Oct. 9, 2011:

If you’ve been to Nyack recently, you’ve likely seen Arnold Rou­fa’s panoramic photo of the village adorning the “Welcome to Nyack” banner.

The retired ob/gyn — who goes by the name “Roufa,” not Dr. Roufa or Arnold Roufa — has had three wives and three lives, one of them touched deeply by breast cancer.

First, he was married with children. That marriage ended in divorce.

Then came his marriage to Myrna March, a R&B-pop singer-songwriter whose talent still causes him to speak in hushed tones. For 22 of their 24 years of marriage, March battled cancer, in one breast, then the other, succumbing to lung cancer in 1998.

The next year, Roufa married Arlene Levine, his high-school sweetheart from New Orleans. They live on the Hudson in Nyack, where he pursues a passion that drives his third life: photography.

Here’s the wrinkle, though: In that middle life, 20 years ago — as he watched March battle cancer, Roufa himself was diagnosed with breast cancer, a diagnosis that is extremely rare in men. Fewer than 1 percent of breast-cancer cases each year are in men.

By the time of his 1991 surgery — on stage 1 cancer in his right breast — Roufa had lived with March’s cancer for 17 years.

His surgeon found the cancer after operating on Roufa for gynecomastia, a painful swelling of his breasts that was a side effect of ulcer medication he was taking. The surgery was on a Friday. The following Monday, the surgeon asked Roufa to come to the office.

“I’ll never forget that day,” he recalls. “It was horrible. He told me I had cancer. I was not thinking cancer, although I had been living cancer since 1974 with my wife. It hit me.”

As a gynecologist, Roufa had examined thousands of women, urging his patients to be proactive about breast cancer.

Doctor became patient. He had his right breast removed and chemotherapy.

Being a man with a disease that primarily affects women didn’t affect his ego.

“Men have breasts,” Rou­fa says.

What took its toll was watching March endure years of doctors, diagnoses and more doctors.

There were dark times.

“As Myrna was going through more things, I would take her tranquilizers. I would take my tranquilizers and sneak liquor. To me, it killed the pain. But it didn’t kill the pain of what she was going through.”

There were also laugh-out-loud times.

After her first mastectomy, March insisted on going to a hospital affair, wearing a prosthesis. When a brash man at the bar complimented her breasts, “she took out her prosthesis and threw it at him,” Roufa says with a laugh. “That’s how she was.”

Twenty years later, long retired, Roufa shared 10 things he took away from his battle with cancer. Read them, after the jump.

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Upcoming Stories and Chats in The Journal News This Month

We had enlightening and informative live chat today with Dr. Andrew Ashikari, a surgical oncologist affiliated with the Ashikari Breast Center in the Dobbs Ferry Pavilion of St. John’s Riverside Hospital and the Ashikari Breast Center at Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor. Click here to see a link of the archive of the Q&A.

We’ll be doing two more chats this month:

Oct. 16: Young women and breast cancer: Local women, all diagnosed under age 40, talk about the unique challenges that they faced during their illness.

Oct. 23: What to do — and what not to do — when a loved one gets cancer: Survivors give their best advice on how to help.

We’ll have links to them from this blog and our homepage at LoHud.com. Don’t miss them!