AJ & Nikki Chat With Tish, Breast Cancer Survivor From South Portland
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we've changed the name of our station to Pink 94.9 HOM. We're doing a lot of things this month related to the fight against breast cancer. One of the most important things we're doing is giving breast cancer survivors a voice on our station, by giving them an opportunity to share their stories of hope. One of those survivors is Tish Russell from South Portland.
Four years ago, Tish was late on getting her regular mammogram.
Then, then her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. And Tish, a South Portland native, was reminded that her grandmother has passed away from breast cancer. She hesitated four months. Finally, after several tests, she was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer because of the size of her tumor. She opted for the bilateral mastectomy. Things went fairly smoothly except for a hospitalization a few months after her surgery. While doctors feared she has a dangerous infection, she simply had a virus, the symptoms of which were heightened by her chemotherapy.
While she did do some research on Cancer.org, she relied heavily on her aunt, a nurse practitioner, and the hospital patient navigator to help her manage the healthcare process.
She had heard of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk before, but didn’t know much about it. That first year, she walked by herself, “smack dab in the middle of chemo,” she recalled. She didn’t do the entire distance, but she was hooked. Now, she walks with friends and her granddaughter Adriana; they make their own T-shirts and costumes. Plus, Tish has started pounding the pavement to drum up corporate sponsors and raffle prizes for the event. She also recently began volunteering as the lead liaison between Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Greater Portland and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate to the American Cancer Society.
“The whole reason I wanted to get involved, was to tell people, ‘You don’t know how strong you can be until you’re there in that moment.’ I want to tell them that they will survive,” said Tish, who works for attorneys Jewell & Bulger in Portland.
Most days now she feels great. Once, her daughter said, “It doesn’t even look like you’ve had breast cancer!” She replied, “Tell that to my scars.”
This year the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Greater Portland walk falls on her birthday, Oct. 20, “and the birthdays mean so much more to me now,” she explained. “Pink’s my favorite color anyway, but the walk is pretty moving.”
Listen to AJ & Nikki's interview with Tish below: