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Breast cancer survivors of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune pose for a photo during the Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon at the Religious Education Center at Tarawa Terrace, Oct. 10. The annual luncheon was created as an outlet for breast cancer survivors and recently diagnosed patients to seek information and help from people who already went through the ordeal, said Angel Cole, event coordinator.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Breast cancer survivors put on pink; Annual luncheon celebrates awareness month

16 Oct 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the survivors aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune met to share hopeful stories and receive new information on the advancements in treatment during the Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon at the Religious Education Center at Tarawa Terrace, Oct. 10.

Angel Cole, event coordinator, said the luncheon is designed not only for breast cancer survivors to share their stories and honor the second chance at life, but to also support and comfort women recently diagnosed.

“When I was diagnosed there was no support group, me and my husband were on our own,” said Cole. “I decided at that moment I didn’t want any woman to go through what I did alone. I want to help them and give them whatever I can.”

Cole added, this is a safe zone for breast cancer patients and survivors to talk about the things other people would be uncomfortable with.

Navy Capt. David Lane, commanding officer for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, said its his goal as the leader of the hospital to provide the cancer care team with every resource they need to provide the best care.

“My wife is a breast cancer survivor, and it gave me a new found appreciation for the courage of women diagnosed,” said Lane. “It’s also been an inspiration to make sure all women diagnosed at NHCL get all the treatment and care they need.”

Lori Boehm, a military spouse and breast cancer survivor, said it’s been three years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer and encourages all women to reach out for help.

“We are a unique bunch of people,” said Boehm. “A lot of times when you’re diagnosed with cancer people feel awkward around you. My biggest struggle after starting treatment was losing my hair, but a neighbor up the street who had beaten lymphoma was a great support system.”

Boehm added no one ever knows how bad treatment is going to be until you go through it, but her husband and neighbors made it possible even on the worst days.

Cmdr. Julie Green, the general surgeon for NHCL, promotes research as the first course of action after being diagnosed with breast cancer because knowing ahead of time what to expect can help the patient be comfortable with their course of treatment.

“There are many misconceptions about breast cancer women need to know if they’re diagnosed,” said Green. “Surgery is not always the best course of action first, mastectomies are not better than other options, and the care has to be individualized, because cancer is unique to every person.”