In honor of Mother's Day, we asked Suzan Printz, mother of PRG Executive Director Heather Salazar, to share her feelings about her daughter's diagnosis.March 3, 2005 is a date in my history I will never forget. It's one of those days you remember exactly what you were doing when you heard about something horrible, such as President Kennedy has been shot or the events of 9-11. For me, it was a phone call from my oldest daughter, crying, "Mom, it IS cancer, come to the doctor's office!!" I felt my heart break into a thousand pieces.
The journey begins. We have to tell our family and friends. But our daughter and her husband have to tell their four young children. Later, when she is not around, my grandchildren will ask me some pretty tough questions! They don't understand why this is happening - I don't understand!
She researches the type of cancer she has and all of the treatment options. I listen trying to understand - and the pit in my stomach is growing larger every day. Plans are made for surgery. This all seems so unreal! I tried to make deals with God. "Please just pass the cancer to me. She is only 31 and has four children." She is my baby! Then the guilt sets in. What did I do wrong? Did I feed her unhealthy food? Did I pass her the breast cancer gene? Then the pity part is over! You pick yourself up, brush yourself off and put on your boxing gloves! We are going to FIGHT this!
Little did I know how difficult and heartbreaking the battle would be. Sitting in the waiting room for the nine hour surgery. Not leaving the room because I told her that is where I would be. Seeing her for the first time after surgery - so weak. But I was so thankful she was here and ready to begin her battle.
Each day seemed to bring new challenges like going shopping for a wig before she lost her hair. That is just not right. It seemed like only yesterday we were shopping for a wedding dress. Losing her long, beautiful, blonde hair was definitely one of our hardest times. You talk about it - you just don't really believe it will happen. Then it does! I remember just putting my arms around her and we both cried.
I cried myself to sleep many nights. Like the nights before we went to chemo - praying the IV would go in smoothly. Chemo days were real bonding days for us. We had lots of time to talk, met lots of interesting people and I got to see just how strong my daughter is.
I tried to be there for her in any way I could. Many times that meant crying together, or just holding her hand. I just wanted her to know I would be there always! For anything! I still have days when the pit in my stomach returns. And days when I can't believe we had to live through breast cancer. It was a very emotional and humbling time. The support we all received from our family and community of friends was truly amazing!
I love you Heather Noelle Printz Salazar to "infinity and beyond"! You have given me much joy, a few grey hairs, and lots of love. Your life is never dull! Thanks for letting me ride along with you!
Thursday May 23rd 2013
Thank You sponsors: Coldwell Banker Rick and Holly Finn
A fundraiser in Hyde Park Square
Featuring:Shopping, Stroller walk , Raffle, Face Painting, Appetizers, and drinks. Live Music with LoopManDan and Leo Clarke and health and wellness events on the Square from 4:30 to 8:30.
Money will be raised through merchant participation, event Sponsors, selling raffle tickets and Donation Jars. We would like to offer a list of participating Businesses so people can walk around the square and visit them for specials offering a % of sale to go to PRG as a donation
Goal:Raise funds and awareness to help Pink Ribbon Girls and bring traffic in to Hyde Park Square Businesses. Pink Ribbon Girls have a very large following, and look for reasons to go out promote their foundation and have fun. They are for the young and the young at heart.
Pink Ribbon Girls BackgroundPink Ribbon Girls was founded when Tracie Metzger realized there was no specific group for young women dealing with breast cancer. Through this non-profit organization, young women are offered education and awareness for early detection, support and an outlet to express fears.
Pink Ribbon Girls mission is to provide personalized support to young women throughout all phases of the breast cancer journey. We accomplish this through education, outreach, awareness, and one-on¬ one support to women and their families.
Our vision is that no one travels this road alone
To participate;Sponsor with Donation - Provide Auction Item – Offer % of sales for that day
Display PRG Tip Jar days prior to the event to collect donations and provide awareness of PRG
Offer 1 Special for the event in your store to bring people there
Your Business in all emails and social network efforts, your in store promotion will also be listed, Posters will be provided for all participants to display in their stores
Marketing EffortsWe will blitz all social networks and email marketing lists‐PRG, Caldwell Banker, Detiem Communications, Famous Promos, and all participating businesses. Encourage young professionals participation through connections with local YP Organizations: HYPE Cincinnati, Secret Cincinnati, Ignite Cincy, MashUP
Event Schedule10:00 am Ribbon Cutting l
10:30am Stroller Walk
10:00am till Close – Shop the Park Pink 11 to 4:30-8:00pm Face Painting on the Square
4:30‐8:00 Live Music: LoopManDan and Leo Clarke www.leoclarkeband.com
8:00PM Raffle winners announced
As my one year cancer-versary approaches, I find myself reflective about my cancer journey.In March 2012, my breast surgeon had tears in her eyes as she diagnosed me with advanced breast cancer: technically Stage III, but with suspicious liver spots. Her compassion was equally magnificent and terrifying. I found it incomprehensible; I was 32, I was nursing my baby, I was perfectly fit and healthy, I had no family history of breast cancer. On my side, I had strength from God, the support of my knight, my husband Brad, and all of my friends and family.
In the first weeks following my diagnosis, I found the Pink Ribbon Girls. I read the “About PRG” section on the website. I found camaraderie in the bios of the two founding members, Heather Salazar and Tracie Metzger. It was my first view of other thirty-somethings who had been-there, done-that with breast cancer. Their stories paralleled my own. I drew inspiration from their journey and their pay-it-forward mentality.
During all of my cancer treatment: twenty weeks of chemotherapy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and twenty-five rounds of radiation therapy, I never met another thirty-something breast cancer patient. (And I met a LOT of patients in the chemo room.) I dashed out of the chemo room each week to fight rush hour traffic and pick up my children from the babysitter. I thought wistfully of the older folks who sat near me who had plans for a light dinner and an early bedtime. I, on the other hand, picked up my children, and then commenced with the chaotic dinner-bath-bed routine that is life with small children. I cherished these times with my daughters: cancer gives one perspective, that is for sure. Doing cancer as a young mom is very different from doing cancer at a later life stage. It was a bit lonely, I will say.
I truly believe everything happens for a reason, even some "bad" things.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2007 at age 39. I had 5 positive lymph nodes and was ER/PR + and her-2 +. I went through bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, herceptin, and reconstruction. Completing treatment successfully would seem to be where my story ends - but for me that was where it really began!
Prior to diagnosis, I had a full time job, 7 and 9-year-old daughters and had just gotten married to my second husband 9 months earlier. When I learned I had cancer I think I must have been in a state of shock. I did not have a family history, did not know anyone who had it, and had absolutely no idea what to do to fix it. I worried that my happy life I felt I finally had worked out would be destroyed.
The first thing I did like most people who need to get up to speed quickly was go to "google" - I typed in "breast cancer, young" and was introduced to Pink Ribbon Girls. I registered right away and got some "leads" on who could treat my disease from women like me. I immediately felt more confident and made the first phone call to meet with a surgeon. Ultimately that was to be my first introduction to what would become my mission - to find the silver lining in this "experience" to do whatever I could to help other women navigate the crazy, unpredictable, often bumpy, sometimes amazing road through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. What I didn't realize when I started this was how critical my work would become in facilitating my own healing.
Over the next few years I "put myself out there" as they say and had so many amazing experiences. I went to Pink Ribbon Girls socials and networking groups and met my first role models of courage and hope. Peggy Sullivan, who I work closely with now, is one incredible lady that changed my whole outlook for the better in 15 minutes!
I found new purpose with my professional business skills and experience and joined the board of directors at Susan G. Komen, where I currently serve as President. In this capacity I learned what it takes to run a non-profit and "pockets of need". My eyes were further opened to the issues of underserved communities and the struggles that women without insurance or family support face just to get a screening mammogram. I cried when I learned of the women who, after completion of treatment, still felt lost and awkward in their own lives - fearful of recurrence and alone.
My best buddy from treatment support group and I created a nonprofit called A Place to Heal with the intent of bringing breast cancer survivors together and helping them have new experiences, forge new friendships, and discover the power in volunteering in any capacity for the cause.
Through all this activity I realized that the breast cancer that I had once considered the worst thing that could have ever happened to me had actually become the best thing. Crazy- right??!! I had become so energized and healed through acts of service, I made the decision to go back to school and get a nursing degree. I completed my BSN at University of Cincinnati in March 2012 and was hired as a nurse clinician in the Department of Surgical Oncology at UC Medical Center. I currently support two breast surgeons and have the honor of participating in other women's breast cancer journeys every day. It has been a most amazing transformation of purpose and I only hope that I am able to honor all the women that I have met along the way who inspired, helped, healed, and encouraged me on this path. Thank you for letting me share my story and I hope there is something in it that offers you a spark of inspiration.