Archive for the ‘Lumbreras, Colie’ Category

Breast Cancer – 3 Stories, 3 Reminders

Breast cancer is important, it is the second most common cancer in women, next to skin cancer (Web MD). Breast cancer isn’t something that women 40 and up have to worry about, it’s everyone. It is becoming more and more common in younger women.

In my first story, I discuss how women can become more aware of breast cancer, especially younger women. Read it here.

In the second story, I did a profile on Janice Freeman, a student who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 22. She does not go to University of Iowa but I feel many students can learn a lot from her story since we are so close in age. Read it here.

The final story is about some basic facts of breast cancer, and what resources Iowa has to offer for students here. Read it here.

For other related interesting stories read:

Comments are greatly appreciated! Let me know what you think, and what can I do better next time.

(Having some technical difficulties with video…hopefully those will be up later)


Breast Cancer here, in Iowa City

Breast Cancer – How you can become aware here at University of Iowa.

Chelsea Stanley creating awareness on campus

Your body is built to protect you and fix yourself. It’s your personal bouncer and it’s like your mother in the sense it takes care of you. But what happens when a foreign mutation comes in the body?

How cancer happens

Keri Mercer, a Cancer Information Specialist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, explains that your body has a kill switch. When cells divide, sometimes the mutations divides and that shut off the kill switch.

“The cell has orders to die if it can’t fix itself,” Kerr Mercer explains, “With cancer, if the mutation happens and the kill switch is off, it will grow and divide. And that is how a tumor begins. [It is] more common when we are older because our cells have been dividing more often.”

This is why cancer is more rare in younger women, because younger women’s’ cells haven’t been dividing as long. When breast cancer does happen to women under 30 or so, it’s usually because of genetics.

“Genetic links are not as common as we think. The reality sees that only 5-10% of cancers are genetically linked,” Mercer said. “Usually where that comes from is often time we don’t understand that there are so many types of cancer.”

Testing and  awareness

Breast cancer as well has different types, even if you take two women who both have breast cancer and are in the same stage; they may have a different type of cancer than each other.

Here in Iowa City, the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics reaches out to the community to try to help them understand cancer and how to catch symptoms. Sometimes some organizations contact them and ask them to come and speak about a certain cancer.

Because there are so many different types of cancer, the UIHC tries to focus on the cancer involved in the cancer awareness month. For example, breast cancer is the main focus for the month of October, as it is everywhere else.

“There has been a lot of awareness done with primary care doctors,” Mercer said. “Most of the are educated to make sure their patients are getting screened.”

Recently, the protocol for women getting mammograms has changed. It used to be women were advised to get them once they turned 40 years old, now it is 50 years old.

“Some [doctors] saw some data that there are false positives. To reduce risk they changed the age range to 50 and up,” Mercer said. “There are still arguments against it. We typically tell patients to start talking to docs to see when to start mammograms.”

Mercer said they are waiting to do testing later because breast tissue is different. When younger the tissue is denser, which makes it harder to see cancer cells.

Genetic Testing

For younger women there is no screening. Mercer says that if you are in a high risk family and have women in the family who diagnosed younger than 40 – they look at your history and recommend the patient who had/has the cancer, get testing done to see if he/she has a mutation (because of insurance). Doctors tend to tell the patients to have the person with the cancer to be tested for the gene and if its positive then see if the person with the mutation has it and if has it there are some things to think about doing from there.

Chelsea Stanley, a junior here at UI, has a long history of breast cancer being common in her family.

“No, I’m not going to get tested for the gene because it’s expensive,” Stanley said. “And having the gene doesn’t mean you’re going to get breast cancer…and not having the gene doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it either. However, getting mammograms, yes, that I’ll do. And feel my boobies of course.”

Mercer says that the awareness not only comes from families, and family history or knowing someone with breast cancer, but it also comes from primary care doctors. Ask you primary care doctors about symptoms, have them check something if you think it is suspicious and they can also refer you to more information or a doctor who may be a specialist in cancer.

What you can do

Here at University of Iowa, student may make an appointment with Student Health Services to speak with a doctor or to get something checked out. They also may have some extra information. University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics also have a lot of resources available to students.

In Johnson County, there have been 342 cases of breast cancer from 2003-2007 according to the Iowa Cancer Registry, 42 of which have died from it.

A Breast Exam Saved Janice.

Profile Story: Janice Freeman

Janice Freeman

Janice Freeman was at the ripe age of 22, a senior in college and was determined to continue onto graduate school — just like many of us students here at University of Iowa.

With graduation in sight, just three weeks away, Janice was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I found my own lump while doing a self-breast exam, [which is] so important to do,” Janice said. “I went to my gynecologist a couple months after I had found it.”

Janice found the lump in December and after her gynecologist check it in March 2008, he sent Janice to a breast specialist to have it checked out.

On April 18, 2008, Janice found out it was breast cancer.

“’Lo and behold, such is the life,” said Janice.

After Graduation & Diagnosis

While Janice still planned on obtaining her graduate degree, she had to postpone it so she could start treatments.

“Fortunately, the school let me defer the start of my grad degree for a semester,” said Janice. “I worked full time that summer, while undergoing treatment. It was my first salary paying job.”

While her life was “pretty much routine,” she went to work, did chemotherapy once a week and in the fall when she was supposed to start school she had surgery: mastectomy and reconstruction.

“I did my best to be a normal college graduate,” said Janice. “But it was definitely difficult to be excited to go out and be with friends when my body was completely depleted of energy.

From start to finish

From the time Janice was diagnosed to her final surgery, 16 months had passed.

“I underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy on a three week cycle. The entire therapy took 4.5 months,” said Janice. “I was allowed to ‘heal’ for a month and then had my surgery and reconstruction, where I took 5 weeks to recover from.”

Janice had three surgeries, in which her first surgery took 8.5 hours long.

Janice had found her lump in her breast while doing a self-breast exam, which on average, many women do not do.

Life goes on

Janice says her life is relatively normal now. She had a wonderful boyfriend who stayed by her side and helped her through everything.

“A year after my diagnosis, my wonderful boyfriend, who was with me through the whole process, proposed to me,” said Janice.

On top of planning her wedding, Janice also works full time, goes to school where she plans to graduate in December from Georgia Tech with a civil engineering degree, and she works with other young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I also spend time doing fundraisers which help support both awareness about the disease and to raise funds for research and support to other women.”

Is she worried the cancer could return? “Absolutely.”

About every week, once a wee Janice thinks about the haunting idea that it could return.

“Being involved with different programs doesn’t always help that, but it does help others, and in some ways, it eventually helps me,” said Janice. “There is always going to be a worry and concern that this horrible disease will rear its ugly head once again in my life. The best way that I can prevent that is to listen to my doctors, listen to myself, and to maintain the positive attitude that is absolutely needed to get through the diagnosis.”

Advice for the Future

The biggest advice that young women need to hear is that self-breast exams could save your life. There is no way out there right now for women under the age of 40 to monitor their breast health according to Janice.

Janice says that by doing regular self-breast exams and by being honest with yourself, you can drastically reduce the effects that cancer can have on your body.

“Its no perfect method, but it is always better to stop things before they are allowed to get any worse,” said Janice. “The only other advice that I would give to young women is to do what makes you happy. Life is too short and too precious to stress over a bad grade. Enjoy life, go where you want to go, do what you want to do.”

Breast Cancer: save yourself & grope yourself.

Students can show their suport and reminders by displaying ribbons, stickers, pins, shirts, etc.

Breast cancer, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, is the most common cancer among women according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast cancer is something women tend to worry about and go to their doctors to get checked regularly when they are older. Although breast cancer in younger women is rare, it should still be a concern and women of all ages should become familiar with their body.

Feel the boobies

Leigh Hurst, the founder of Feel Your Boobies Foundation, found a lump in her breast that the doctors didn’t detect. Two years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40.

“Getting in touch with your breasts is the best way to be proactive.  Even though it’s unlikely that you’ll get breast cancer in your 20’s, it does happen, and your risk only increases with age,” Hurst said. “So getting to know how your breasts feel is important so that you are aware if a breast lump or other change occurs and can bring it immediately to a doctor’s attention.”

When Leigh was diagnosed, she realized that developing breast cancer is a risk for anyone – before she was diagnosed she was a devoted runner and a triathlete and had no family history of breast cancer.

Leigh, being a health conscious person, had not thought much about breast cancer and came to the conclusion that the message wasn’t out there enough for young women. So she created the Feel Your Boobies Foundation.

“’Feel Your Boobies’ may seem simply like a fun and provocative slogan, but it’s really our way of asking ‘Are You Doing It?’®,” Leigh said. “Well, are you?”

Many people laugh when they see the “Feel Your Boobies” stickers around or shirts that say “Boobies (feel yours).”

“Our goal is to remind young women to get in touch with their bodies,” Leigh said.  “We believe that our proactive reminder, ‘feel your boobies’, gets through to young women in a way that traditional messages do not.”

Feel Your Boobies is making lots of headway with over two million followers on Facebook and they are also one of the Top 30 largest Causes.

“Getting to know how your breasts feel is important so that you are aware if a breast lump or other change occurs and can bring it immediately to a doctor’s attention,” Leigh said. “Early detection is so important in ensuring survival of breast cancer, since the disease itself cannot be prevented.”

Breast cancer is close to the heart

Chelsea Stanely, a junior at University of Iowa is all too familiar with breast cancer.

“I am worried about getting breast cancer because it runs in my family,” Chelsea said. “4 out of 5 of my mom/her sisters have had it. My mom and one aunt have had it twice. My mom and my aunt that have had it twice, both had double mastectomies to try to prevent it from coming back a third time.”

Chelsea usually does self-exams in the shower once a week, which is a typical spot for women to check, and times it with her menstrual cycle. Also, OBGYNs usually check for you on the annual check-up.

It scares Chelsea that younger women are getting diagnosed because it runs in her family.

“To be proactive, I do the self exams usually every month, to detect any changes or abnormalities, have to doctor do an exam, and get checked out if something doesn’t seem normal,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea helps pass out the Feel Your Boobies stickers around and it helps remind her.

“Telling other people and making other aware is also a good way for me to remember; how can I forget if I’m reminding others?”

Kristyn Loeb, another junior, doesn’t have breast cancer lurking in the corners of her family’s past.

“I’m not really concerned with breast cancer because I don’t ever really think about it, which I probably should do,” Kirstyn said. “Since no one in my family has ever had it then I don’t really worry about it.”

Just because younger women are getting diagnosed, doesn’t mean everyone should worry. But exams and check ups are still a good idea.

“It doesn’t scare me, I think it’s good that women are being diagnosed [and catching it],” Kirstyn said. I have donated money for breast cancer funds and try to do whatever I can to help.”

Kristyn says she doesn’t really know how to do self-breast exams, and that is probably something that is harming women – the lack of knowledge.

Something that may help women is doing some research on it and putting up fun, friendly reminders to check yourself.

“Putting something in my room to help remind me to regularly do self exams would be helpful,” Kristyn said. “Something I see every time I come out of the shower, for instance. Also, if my friends are concerned about being proactive and checking themselves then we can try to remind each other whenever we can.”

What YOU can do

Monthly breast self breast exams are the best way to catch early signs. No one knows your body better than yourself, and as Leigh found out, the doctors may not catch it.

Talk to your doctor if you don’t know how to do a self-exam and your doctor can tell you what to be checking for during your exam.

Symptoms can be a small pea-sized lump or mass, discharge, marble-like hardened area under the skin, a change of appearance or feel, and/or redness of the skin or nipple area.

This doesn’t just affect women. Men can remind their friends, girlfriends/wives, and relatives to feel their boobies and go get mammograms. The earlier it is caught, the better chance there is to overcoming it.

Also, a small percentage of men can get breast cancer. Men’s most common symptom is Gynecomastia, which is an increase in the amount of breast tissue.

Check out Feel Your Boobies Foundation’s page and all the testimonials of women who did it

So make sure to feel your boobies. Laugh about it, but then seriously do it.

She’s not your average young adult: Work, volunteer, class and planning on her plate.


By: Nicole Lumbreras

She is a student who is involved with so much more than your average young adult.

Most 20-something females worry about what they will do this weekend, what exams are coming up and just getting through the week.

Not Lexi Schenk. Lexi is an ‘always on the go’ sophomore at the University of Iowa where she worries about; how am I going to get from STAT to work, how long should I run this morning to train for the marathon, and when will I get to talk to Tim next?

She is involved with so much here at the University of Iowa all while she works at Applebee’s, and tries to plan her wedding to the handsome Marine, Tim Gunter.

“Lexi is always gone! She’s either working, at class or at meetings for STAT and homecoming,” said one of her roommates Renea Juska.

Lexi has always enjoyed volunteering in high school, especially in hospitals.

“Now, I am part of the largest student organization on campus: Students Today, Alumni tomorrow (STAT). I am an ambassador in that organization and the committee chair for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Lexi. “In addition, this year I am a part of the 2010 Homecoming Executive Council as the Alumni Events Coordinator.”

Making school a career.

On top of all her volunteering, Lexi is a psychology (pre-med) major. She also has a secondary major in Spanish. She is one dedicated girl, and always studying.

“I’ve wanted a career in medicine ever since I can remember. However, the specific focus is subject to change at any time.,” said Lexi. “Psychology is an area of medicine I really enjoy learning about at the moment.”

She wants to be able to help with psychological problems affecting a person’s health including eating disorders and sports related psychological problems. In the end, she can help people while also enjoying what she does: a win, win situation for Lexi.

Lexi isn’t even sure how much free time she gets to herself. She is an early rise so she always has the mornings to herself to run and relax.

“Breakfast is also my favorite meal so I really enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning and just reflecting on what I’m going to do that day before the craziness begins,” said Lexi. “Most nights I either have too many thoughts bouncing around in my head, too much homework, a meeting, or I’m spending time with friends. Nights are productive, but never relaxing for me. I wish I had more that were.”

Lexi will be running in the marathon for Dance Marathon this October 10th. This is her 4th full marathon.

Volunteering most of her time.

Lexi got involved with everything here by simply going to a STAT meeting and was eager to start.

“I went to the general meeting last fall and found out I could apply for an ambassador position. I figured why not? I got the position and ever since it has only continued to open new doors. Once I became an ambassador I became Committee Chair for Make-A-Wish and then a part of the Homecoming Executive Council.”

Joining STAT has been the best decisions Lexi feels she has made since arriving at Iowa (minus saying ‘yes’ when Tim popped the question).

“My fellow STAT Ambassadors and the people on my committee for Make-A-Wish are great to work alongside and excellent friends outside of the organization,” Lexi said. “Many of them are just like me and that makes for a very comfortable environment. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Although Homecoming is a huge event and demands a lot of time and effort and is really stressful, Lexi loves it because she says it feels great to be apart of something bigger (it’s true, she loves it).

“I am a very proactive person and I love challenges,” Lexi said.

Determination is (one of) Lexi’s middle names. When she joined all these programs and received her positions, she decided she was going to make the events better than the years before. And when Lexi says that, she means it.

“I admire her work ethic. She is always determined to finish what she starts and she gets it all done in a reasonable amount of time. She knows how to juggle all of her activities and I have no idea how she does it… I would go insane,” Renea said.
But Lexi, somehow, manages to juggle it all.

“Honestly, it not only makes me feel good about what I’m doing for other people, obviously that’s a big part, but it keeps me busy and motivated,” Lexi said.

Here comes the bride.

Lexi Schenk met Tim Gunter when she was junior in high school. He had just moved to Chicago from Boston and was being recruited into the Marines after his move: he was 19 and she was 17.

From there it is your classic, heart-warming story: Tim and Lexi “clicked from the first day,” and what started out as just a friendship slowly turned into something more over a long period of time…it only took them two and a half years before they figured out that the rest of their lives were to be spent together.

“We are getting married in less than 4 months and the time is absolutely flying Which thank goodness, because so is his deployment,” Lexi said. “January 2, 2011 is the date. I don’t think either of us could be more excited, but yes even in all the excitement, there is quite a bit of stress. Lucky for him, because of his deployment, Tim gets to miss all of the Bridezilla moments.”

Like most young people in love, Lexi’s face lights up when she talks about Tim with a huge grin on her face. She always gets really excited, like a child on Christmas.

Lexi may claim she has some Bridezilla moments, but the only Lexi we see is giddy-in-love Lexi.

“I already have the dress and the shoes. He’ll be in his marine blues. Flowers: orchids. Colors: gold, black, and red. I always wanted a winter wedding so things worked out nicely,” said Lexi. “Next summer we are planning to have a big reception so all our friends and family can help us to celebrate the marriage. Plus let’s be honest, who really wants to go to the ceremony?”

A little ‘me time’

In the little free time Lexi has, she is running, cooking, reading, and watching movies, shopping and most recently, planning her wedding.

This is Lexi’s last semester here at University of Iowa. Next semester she is moving to California with her soon-to-be-Hubby, where he will be stationed.

“I will definitely miss her cooking and her cleaning! It will definitely be a change for the whole apartment to have a new roommate in here second semester but I’m sure that we will all adjust,” Renea said. “Not to mention I’m jealous she’ll be on the beach when we’re stuck in three feet snow!”

When Lexi was asked what is next on her to-do list she said: “Probably finishing my mastering chemistry homework assignment I was trying to work on before I decided I’d rather answer questions! But really, I can’t wait to say ‘I DO.’ That’s the biggest, most important thing on my do list once Tim finally gets home!”

Go Green: so stop printing?

The story chosen for those post focuses on New York Times’ decision to stop printing ‘sometime in the future.’ The publisher of the New York Times announced the big news Wednesday, September 8, 2012. A brief story can be found on Mashable.

Wait, hold up. New York Times is one of the largest newspapers in the country. What does that mean for other publications? Will they follow suit?

Brian Stewart is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Iowan. He would be a good source to talk to about this to give it a more local touch to the story because he is currently holds a lot of responsibility for the content, publication and distribution for the Iowa City’s Daily Iowan. Brian is also a student so he can vouch for how our mentors and professors keep telling us, “One day print will no longer exist. You need to be more diverse in order to get a job,” and how students here at the University of Iowa are prepapring for this and their reaction to the news.

Another good source to talk to would be David D. Perlmutter who is the Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a professor at the University of Iowa. David is an excellent source to talk to because, as stated earlier, he is one of the main people telling us students “You need to be diverse.” So he can explain how the lack of print newspapers may pose a problem, but explain the ways around it. David has been preparing students for the day this would happen; and for that reason he is a great person to look to because he can give us a direction on where to go and what to do and what to learn/how to adapt to this massive change.

Lexi Schenk

Lexi Schenk is very involved with the University of Iowa campus and generously donates much of her time all while showing her mad love and support for the Hawkeyes.

Lexi is involved with Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) at University of Iowa where she is on the Homecoming committee, she is also involved with Make A Wish Foundation, Dance Marathon, she works at the Applebee’s in Coralville; all while trying to plan her wedding in January and getting ready to transfer schools to be closer to her soon-to-be Marine hubby. For being only 19 and a sophomore taking a full course load, that is quite a lot to be involved with. More than most students can handle (I know I couldn’t do it all).

Lexi isn’t the only one doing it. Volunteering has always been a ‘trend’ (for lack of better words). And in today’s economy, many people want to give and help out those who are struggling.  Mandy Sharp is another giving individual who is volunteering just because. She pledges to donate 101 hours in Chicago starting on 9/11…in just a few days!

I know I am sitting here in awe wondering why I slack so much and I feel ready to go volunteer. Well you can! There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help you out and give your more information. From University of Iowa? Check out Dance Marathon’s Facebook group and see what they are up to and talk to people and see how you can get involved. Maybe try STAT’s Facebook group, or Make A Wish’s national Facebook group. Those sites are barely just the beginning of the volunteer world.

These sites here on this post were chosen because I thought there were the most direct, helpful and relevant sites that could be found about Lexi, volunteering, and the University of Iowa’s share in these organizations. They are local, student aimed and the goal is easy to understand. Also, these sites are credible. Not only because they are well known organizations, but because the University of Iowa also supports them and gave them the ‘stamp of approval.’