The North Bend Eagle


Survivors tickled pink just to be

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 10/9/19

Surviving cancer is something everyone thinks about. Everyone knows at least one survivor, many are related to one. On the other side, everyone knows someone who has died as the result of cancer, many way too young.

The North Bend Cancer Survivors Support Group was started in 2000, mostly composed of women who had experienced breast cancer. The group continues to meet every other month, September through May, to offer support to those touched by cancer, whether themselves or a family member.

Audrey Chromy was one of the original organizers and is now a 24.5-year survivor of a “fairly aggressive” form of ductile breast cancer.

“I consider myself lucky,” Chromy, 72, said. “I really don’t think I had such a hard time. It was inconvenient, but I was lucky.”

Chromy had surgery and chemotherapy and continues to go for a yearly checkup.

“I probably don’t need go back each year,” Chromy said, “but I still worry about it coming back and feel better if I do.”

Sue Emanuel was diagnosed 24 years ago at the age of 42. There is no history of cancer in her family history, yet she and two of her sisters have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I lost my youngest sister to the disease a year ago June at 59 years old and realize how devastating this disease can be,” Emanuel said. “I continue to pray that a cure is found soon, as I realize that breast cancer is a sneaky disease that could return at any moment, and I have a lot of life and memories to share.”

With her diagnosis Emanuel had a lumpectomy and several rounds of chemo and radiation.

“Initially after I was diagnosed, I had and still have goals that keep me reaching for a bright and positive future with family and friends,” Emanuel said. “My first goal was to be there for my youngest sons kindergarten Christmas program, than to be around to celebrate each child’s birthday, graduation, wedding, and now their grandchildren. I’m so thankful and blessed to be here with them for all of this.”

Pat Fittje was diagnosed at the age of 51 with ductile and lobular breast cancer. She had surgery and 10 years of medication. She continues to go back to her oncologist for a yearly check up. Now 71, she has enjoyed 20 years cancer free.

“There were a couple of other gals going through cancer while I was going through treatment,” Fittje said. “One, with a brain tumor, she died a year after that. I just wonder why I was spared. You never know. When you get the diagnosis, you deal with it. I had friends and relatives who stepped up big.”

Kathy Mensik knows the exact date of her diagnosis, Aug. 18, 2005. The day after her twin sons started kindergarten. She was 37.

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