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Breast cancer survivor strives to help others

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Meg Barry, a resident of Highland Village for 23 years, will be one of nearly 300 breast cancer survivors participating in the Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure Survivor Celebration and Recognition Ceremony in Denton on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Led by Honorary Team New Balance Member Janie McLeod, a City of Denton employee and breast cancer survivor herself, it will honor the survivors present, as well as pay tribute to the men and women who have lost their battle with the disease. 

The ceremony is part of the 3rd Annual Susan G. Komen North Texas Denton Race for the Cure located in Denton’s South Lakes Park at 556 Hobson Lane. Serving as Honorary Chair and event emcee is Emmy-winning local radio and news personality, Scott Murray.

Barry’s personal story of survival began in 2008 following an annual mammogram.

“I think I had my baseline mammogram at age 40 and then started regular screening mammograms when I was 50,” she said. “I was 53 when [the cancer] was detected in July 2008. I had a routine mammogram that showed a tiny spot in my right breast. I went back for another mammogram– and a sonogram– which confirmed that the spot was there. But, the doctors agreed that the spot was too small to find with surgery, so I was scheduled for another mammogram and sonogram six months later.”

Before the January 2009 follow-up exams and February 4 biopsy confirmed a cancer diagnosis, Barry said she could feel that the “spot” had grown rapidly and knew that was not a good sign.

“I had already looked over information on the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure website,” she said. “Therefore, I knew what I wanted to do next. Thanks to that information, I had 23 questions ready for the surgeon, plus 12 for the nurse who ran the chemo class.”

Barry’s specific diagnosis was: an Invasive ductal carcinoma; Stage: IIB (“I have a B.A. in English, so I’ve always called it my ‘Hamlet stage’ – you know, ‘2B or not 2B …’” she said).

It was estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 “negative,” meaning hormones did not cause the cancer and the Ki-67 Proliferative Index was high— 95-percent positive cells– which means it was very fast growing

On Feb. 25, 2009, Barry had a partial mastectomy (aka “lumpectomy”) which removed the entire tumor, but two of nine lymph nodes were positive for tumor. On March 6, a follow-up operation removed additional lymph nodes which were negative of tumor.

Barry’s tumor in her lymph nodes and the size of the tumor in her breast meant that her treatment following surgery included both chemotherapy and radiation.

Her four-hour chemotherapy treatments were every three weeks for a total of six sessions. They began on April 7 and finished on July 20.

“I lost my hair, of course, but not just on my head and eyebrows and eyelashes, but everywhere,” said Barry. “You never appreciate your nose hair until you don’t have any and find you’ve got a constant case of ‘dribble nose.’ It was nice, though, not to have to shave my legs. I had some nausea and low white blood cell count, but meds helped with that. Training for the Komen 3-Day for the Cure that November also helped push the chemo through my body.”

Barry’s radiation treatments followed, beginning August 17 to October 1 for five “work days” each week.

“I was pretty sore by the end,” she said. “My underarm was the worst spot; it peeled and, when still raw, peeled again. The only other side effect that I had from radiation was a bit of fatigue, but afternoon naps helped.”

She also credits the support of her family and friends for helping her keep a positive attitude. Her husband, Dave, and children– Kate, 29, and Sean, 27– were with her all the way.

“When you get the call to return for additional exams, your mind just freezes,” said Barry. “That in-between time of ‘is this a cancer or just a tumor’ is the worst. But, I had the family support and all the knowledge from the Komen website, so I wasn’t afraid. I just said: ‘Cancer, you’re not going to get me!’”

The 2013 Denton County event includes activities for people of all ages and abilities, such as a Kids for the Cure activity area, the Elizabeth’s Garden tribute area, grantee health fair and sponsor expo. Online registration for walkers and runners is open until 5 p.m. on September 27 at komennorthtexas.org.  A course map and parking information is also available at the website.

Race day walk-up registration on September 28 opens at 6 a.m.; Survivor Photo at 7:30 a.m.; a pre-competitive race aerobic warm-up at 7:50 a.m.; the Competitive 5K race at 8 a.m.; the Casual 5K Run/Walk at 8:10 a.m.; a family aerobic warm-up at 8:25 a.m.; the 1-Mile Family Fun Run/Walk at 8:45 a.m.; the 50-Yard Kids Dash at 9:45 a.m.; and, the Survivor Celebration and Awards Ceremony at 10 a.m.

Following the conclusion of the Survivor Ceremony– which will include a performance by Komen North Texas’ Survivor choir, Voices of Hope– prizes will be awarded to the fastest runners, best team T-shirt design, and the largest teams.

Barry has a race team, Pink Soles in Motion, and has been a participant in Dallas, Plano and Denton County Race for the Cure events since the 1980’s.

Barry will be at a fundraiser for her team on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Fish City Grill, 2628 Long Prairie Rd., Flower Mound (972-899-1630) in anticipation of this year’s Komen 3-Day Race for the Cure in Dallas/Fort Worth on November 1 to 3. Although team participation is complete, volunteers and supporters can visit the website for information: www.the3day.org

Susan G. Komen North Texas relies on events like the Denton Race for the Cure to raise awareness about this deadly disease and raise critically needed fund in the fight against breast cancer. 

Since 1991, Komen North Texas has invested more than $10 million in the local North Texas community for breast health education, screening, and treatment.  For more information, visit: Komen North Texas event.

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