The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 23, 1985 - Page 3
'U' support group aids breast cancer patients
By LAUREN SINAI
When surgeons wheeled Linda Van-
derpool into the operating room at St.
John's Hospital in Grosse Pointe four
years ago, she had read little about
preast cancer and didn't know what
would be done to her body.
L She expected a biopsy to reveal that
the lump in her breast was benign.
When she awoke, she learned that
doctors had found the lump to be
nalignant and removed her entire
$reast, along with several affected
"I HAD been married for seven
months. I had been treated for fibrous
ystic disease for three months. Then
suddenly, my doctor told me I had to
have a biopsy the next week, as the
third mammograph showed a change
in the density of the lump...A let's
wait and see attitude changed to it
i ust be done right away," Vander-
"I was 31 years old at the time," the
Union Lake resident continued. "I
thought that having cancer meant you
Were going to die."
W Although she had doubts about the
operation, Vanderpool said she and
her husband never thought about get-
ting a second opinion and were not
given any other options.
. THE UNIVERSITY'S Breast Can-
cer Education/Support Group helps
women like Vanderpool through the
traumatic post-operative period.
Vanderpool's lack of knowledge
about her disease may be considered
K nusual by today's standard medical
ractices. Nonetheless, the support
group aids victims of breast cancer by
supplying them with peer support and
education they may not have received
in the hospital or doctor's office.
Formed three-and-a-half years ago
by nurse clinician Dian Sommerfield
and women who were undergoing
chemotherapy at the time, Ann Arbor
women now meet weekly for eight
weeks at the Simpson Memorial In-
titute Library. Three eight-week
sessions are offered each year, and
ages of members range from women
in their early 30s to 70s.
STAFFED BY oncology social
worker Claudia Kraus and Sommer-
field, the sessions focus on such issues
as sense of self, fear of the future,
family relations, and personal
Speakers, including nutritionists,
physical therapists, and surgeons, are
often invited to the meetings to an-
"The group gives women more of a
sense of control," Kraus said. "Breast
cancer is a disease under a great deal
of research...Women have to choose
from a lot of different options, and the
group gives members a sense of
THE INITIAL group has been so
successful that another started for
those who have "graduated" from the
eight-week session, Kraus said. This
group meets monthly and has no time
Now a peer counselor, Vanderpool
said that the group provides her with
emotional support. "When I went
through it I was all alone, had no
literature, and had nobody to talk to,"
Vanderpool said that she finally ob-
tained extensive literature about
breast cancer when she went to the
University's outpatient clinic two
months after her operation.
UNLIKE VANDERPOOL, breast
cancer patient Kate Rosevear, 42,
said she had plenty of time to consider
her options before she had a modified
radical masectomy in December,
Rosevear said she realizes the
medical advances in the past five
years have gone a long way in infor-
ming and educating women like Van-
derpool and herself of their options.
"Five years ago, all they did were
radical masectomies (total breast
removal) right then and there,"
Rosevear, of Plymouth, said. "There
are still a few doctors who don't know
any better, but now there are
something like 26 different options
open to women."
"NOW, I THINK that doctors are
I used to be very moody. I could cry at a
sunset ! It takes a great deal of effort to
remain positive...I'll probably be fighting
this thing the rest of my life, but I always
have to know that I can beat it (the can-
breast cancer patient
of her priorities have changed as a
result of her illness.
"I'm not working anymore. I used
to work at a bank and was kind of
caught up in a rat race. But now I
realize the importance of family and
"Many people can get caught up in
things that mean absolutely
nothing...They don't know what
ROSEVEAR, a self-employed real
estate broker, did not drastically
change her lifestyle. She said the
operation also did not cause her to
miss much work.
"At first it's pretty devastating. But
I'm a practical person, and a
realist...You make up your mind that
this is the way it is - it's something
that happened and you do what you
Rosevear added that she has a sure
method for ending her feelings of
"Probably one of the most true-to-
form things is in an article I read
titled 'First to Cry.' That's the normal
reaction - the process of thinking :
What if I lose my nipple? What if I lose
my breast? What if I lose my life? Af-
ter considering the third question, you
sober up pretty quickly."
acknowledging that women can take
care of their own destinies," she said.
"I've talked to women who have had
plenty of time to consider their op-
Both women stressed the importan-
ce of family and friends.
"My husband was always there,"
Vanderpool said. "I cannot imagine
going through all that without him."
BUT VANDERPOOL added that not
all woman were as fortunate as she
was. "In the room down the hall from
me, there was a woman whose
husband did not visit her once. On the
day of her discharge, he waited in a
car outside of the hospital for her to
come down. She was devastated. If I
had been able to, I would have told
him exactly where he could go..."
Rosevear said that, along with
family support, cards from women
who had already experienced breast
cancer were the most reassuring form
of support she received.
"I think that was the most helpful
support I could have gotten," she
said. "You only seem to know about
the failures. Here, I discovered all the
THE BACKGROUND of breast
cancer still seems to be a mystery to
both researchers and victims. For
Vanderpool, a North Carolina native,
discovering she had cancer was quite
a shock. Her grandmother had been
the only family member inflicted with
"I have never really been sick.
Then, in one day - six hours later -
my whole life had completely
changed," Vanderpool explained.
Rosevear 's family did have a
history of cancer. But she, too, said up
until the lump was discovered, she felt
"fit as a fiddle."
ROSEVEAR links the American
diet to breast cancer. She said she
feels that a low fiber and a high fat
and protein content in her diet led to a
higher risk of breast cancer.
Both women, despite a fear of how
the disease may act upon their body in
the future, emphasized that they have
not let it destroy their passion for life.
"I used to be very moody," recalled
Vanderpool. "I could cry at a sunset!
It takes a great deal of effort to
remain positive... I'll probably be
fighting this thing the rest of my life,
but I always have to know that I can
beat it (the cancer)."
VANDERPOOL ADDED that many
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The shape of things to come... 668-1566
The University's Family Law Project will be conducting a bucket
drive throughout the city. Family Law Project is a non-profit student
organization that provides free legal services for victims of domestic
MTF (Invitation to The Dance), 7 p.m., Singin' in the Rain, 9 p.m.,
Women in the Arts - Anonymous Was a Woman, Kenojuak, Georgia
O'Keefe, 7:30 p.m., Angell Aud. B.
Radio Free Wolverine - WCBN radio comedy, 8 p.m., RC Auditorium,
U Club - Laugh Track, Tim Slagle, 9 p.m.
Russian & Easr European Studies - Eric Duskin, Yvonne Howell &
Steve Sullivant, "Adventures Abroad," noon, Lane Hall Commons Room.
Afroamerican & African Studies - Mark Orkin, "Divestment & Social
Change: Implications of What Black South Africans Really Think," noon,
111 W. Engineering.
Biological Sciences - Bill Fink, "Evolution of Shape & Diet in
Piranhas," 4 p.m., Rm. 2, MLB.
Communication - Frank Beaver, "Movies, Censorship & Politics,"
noon, Marsh Seminar room, Frieze Building.
Electrical & Computer Science - Kurt Skifstad, "Statistical Approach
for Solder Joint Inspection," 5 p.m., 2076 E. Engineering.
Industrial & Operations Engineering - Robert Kleinbaum, "Predic-
ting the Unpredictable Bilinear Time Series Model with Heterogeneous
Errors," 4 p.m., 241 IOE.
Jerome Lecture Series - Irving Lavin, "Equestrian Monuments:
The Indomitable Horseman," 4 p.m., E. Lecture Hall, Rackham building.
Near Eastern & North African Studies - Mary Boyce,
"Zoroastrianism: The First Creedal Religion," 5 p.m., Rackham.
Order of Omega - 10:30 p.m., Pendleton Room, Union.
Michigan Gay Union -9p.m., 802 Monroe St.
Dissertation Support Group - 1:30 p.m., Rm. 3100, Union.
Science Fiction Club - 8:15 p.m., League.
Ensian Yearbook - 7 p.m., 420 Maynard St.
Baha'i Club - 5:30 p.m., Union.
UAC - Workshop, Impact Jazz Dance, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Ballroom, Union.
Yearbook Portraits - Walk-in sittings, 9 a.m. to noon, 1to 6 p.m., 420
Guild House - Beans & rice dinner, 6 to 7:30 p.m., 802 Monroe St.
Muslim Student Association - Islamic coffee hour, noon, Rm. 3,
Chemistry - Seminars: Nikolas Chaniotakis, "Determination of (02 &
C02) in Interstitial Waters," 4 p.m., Rm. 1200; James Rigby, "Synthetic
Studies on Hydroazulenic Natural Products," 4 p.m., Rm. 1300,
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BOSTON (AP) - The risk of uterine
cancer among women who use
estrogen during menopause remains
significantly higher than usual for at
least a decade after they stop taking
the drug, new research shows.
The study, which contradicts a
widely held belief that the cancer risk
returns to normal soon after women
give up estrogen, recommends that
these women be watched closely for
signs of the disease.
ESTROGEN IS widely used to
relieve the hot flashes and other un-
pleasant symptoms of menopause. In
the late 1970s, experts noticed that the
hormone appeared to increase the risk
of cancer of the lining of the uterus
known as the endometrium.
At the time, researchers came to
the reassuring conclusion that the
elevated risk went away as soon as
women stopped using the drug.
"These findings, if true, cast a dif-
ferent light on the matter altogether,"
said the director of the new study, Dr.
Samuel Shapiro of the Boston Univer-
sity Drug Epidemiology Unit.
OVERALL, the study found that the
cancer risk is 3% times higher than
usual among women who take
estrogen for at least a year. But the
risk increases the longer the medicine
is used. It was three times normal for
those who used estrogen for one to
four years, 5 times for five to nine
years of use and 10 times for 10 or
more years of use.
There was no sign that the risk
eventually went down, the resear-
chers wrote, and "the risks of en-
dometrial cancer remained
significantly elevated even after the
estrogen-free intervals of over 10
An estimated 37,000 new cases of
endometrial cancer are diagnosed
annually in the United States. The
disease is highly curable if detected
early. It causes about 2,900 deaths
THE LATEST study was based on a
survey of 425 victims of uterine can-
cer and a comparison group of 792
women who were free of the disease.
The results were published in the New
England Journal of Medicine.
Another co-author of the study, Dr.
Robert Knapp of Brigham and
Women's Hospital in Boston, said that
women who took estrogen during
menopause should have gynecological
exams every six months.
He urged that doctors take biopsy
samples from the endometrium to
check for cancer if these women ex-
perience bleeding after menopause.
The biopsies take about five minutes
and can be done in a doctor's office
but are painful.
KNAPP NOTED that estrogen also
prevents brittle bones, or
osteoporosis, a common condition
that causes fractures in older women.
And he said the benefits of estrogen
outweigh the risk for many women.
Birth control pills have long com-
bined estrogen with another hormone,
progesterone, and there's evidence
that this actually lowers the risk of
uterine cancer. Knapp said many
gynecologists have begun prescribing
similar combinations to menopausal
women in an effort to diminish the
chance of cancer.
A Danish study, also published in
the journal, suggests that smoking
causes estrogen to be removed more
quickly from the bloodstream. The
research was conducted on post-
menopausal women who were taking
combinations of estrogen and
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