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The fight against breast cancer: Firefighters offer ‘hope’ after ‘heartbreak’

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | October 27, 2015

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The month of October is set aside to honor survivors as well as to remember those who have succumbed to the battle against breast cancer – a disease which continues to plague so many victims and their families.

There are not very many individuals, who have not been impacted in some way by the illness, whether by its effects on relatives, close friends, colleagues or acquaintances; everyone knows someone who has suffered from cancer’s sometimes deadly consequences.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Fire Department personnel/first responders are not just heroes in times of immediate crisis. In the struggle to combat breast cancer, they suit up every October in the traditional pink uniform shirt to symbolize “hope” in the aftermath of “heartbreak.”

In their efforts to bring awareness to personnel, residents as well as visitors aboard the base, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics offered words of hope and encouragement to loved ones, survivors and to countless other families who have suffered traumatic losses due to the illness.

Megan Cornell, EMT/firefighter, Fire Department, MCLB Albany, honors her friend by sharing a message of love and hope.

“One of my closest friends was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer,” a very tearful Cornell said. “She had (gone) for her annual mammogram a few months ago and the results came back normal. A few weeks ago she woke up and felt a lump and made an appointment to get (it) checked out.”

According to Cornell, during her friend’s medical examination, the doctor gave an immediate indication that he knew she had breast cancer.

“She is now going through all the tests and surgeries,” Cornell added. “Chemotherapy has (also) begun. She is a fighter and the strongest person I know. Hope is one of the greatest gifts we can be given and though this journey will be a difficult one, we send prayers, encouragement and love throughout the way.”

Firefighter/paramedic, Ron Hedgecoke, Fire Department, MCLB Albany, shared the story of his mother who is a 30-year breast cancer survivor.

“Thirty years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Hedgecoke recalled. “I was a teenager at the time and it was very hard on me. She went for radiation and chemotherapy. It was very hard on the whole family. She had a mastectomy; and, a few months later, we found out that she had cancer in the other breast. So, it was a double hit. She went through the entire process all over again. It’s been 30 years now; she’s a strong woman and I’m very glad that she survived.”

Hedgecoke offered words of hope and compassion to others who may be going through the process and treatments to conquer the disease.

“Even when it seems very dark and there is no hope,” he emphasized. “Just be there for them; it’s all about making them strong, making them want to live and push through.”

Sean Edmondson, captain, Fire Department, MCLB Albany, remembered the loss of family members and shared words of hope for several friends who are currently going through breast cancer treatment.

“Cancer itself is dear to my heart,” Edmondson said. “I lost both my grandfathers to cancer. Most recently, we’ve had a couple of friends in church and one of our pastors’ wives went through it and had a double mastectomy after finding out a couple of months ago that she had breast cancer.

“She is home and she’s doing great now,” he continued. “Her prognosis is good. She goes back to the doctor some time (next) week; they’re thinking they got it all, but she’s got to go for a re-examination to make sure.”

Edmondson added words of hope to his friends and to others going through the same struggles.

“There are so many people who are affected by breast cancer,” he concluded. “No matter what the doctors say; they think so many times that medically there is no hope, but the Lord always proves them wrong. By faith, the Lord can get us through anything; he has a purpose for everything and he will take us through it.”

For current updates, statistics and progress on breast cancer, visit the website: www.cancer.org.


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