Giving Back Through Anecdotes
Lisa Riley hopes to increase breast cancer awareness by telling her story and making sure that even young people are taking preventive measures.
Lisa Riley has never spoken publicly about her cancer, but on October 27, she wanted to share her journey with pharmacy students for Breast Cancer Awareness, an event hosted by Pacific's American Cancer Society Committee (ACSC) and co-hosted by Vietnames Cancer Awareness, Research, Education Society (VN CARES). The organizations partnered with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to increase awareness of the disease that has become a reality for younger people.
Shortly after her 40th birthday and her routine checkup in June, Riley, Health Center Manager of Planned Parenthood's Eastland Plaza office, found a lump in her breast which forced her to seek medical attention. Months later, she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. By December her tumor had grown 3.5 centimeters.
When Riley thought about cancer patients, she never envisioned herself-a healthy mother of two-to be one. "I never thought cancer could hit me," she said. Much to her dismay, triple-negative cancer is hitting more and more younger women.
"I always thought cancer was for old people, but hearing Lisa's story opened my eyes," said student Erika Lee '14.
Riley was surprised to see so much support in her battle with cancer. "I want to give back to those people who gave to me," she said. One way Riley is giving back is through her anecdotes and by educating people around her about cancer. She warned the room full of young students, "Cancer does not discriminate. All you can do right now is to do whatever it takes to prevent it."
ACSC co-chair Jessica Leong '13 believes that it is important to educate students about cancer as early as possible. "Cancer is something you don't think about often, but it should not go without attention," she said. "It's good to figure out what really happens. This event was created to inform students."
Michael Liberato, Quality Management Clinician of Planned Parenthood's Eastland Plaza office, supplemented Riley's story by informing the audience about Planned Parenthood's preventive services which include free clinical breast exams, mammograms, and more.
Before leaving the podium, Riley offered advice to the audience. "You need to remember that one out of eight women will get breast cancer," she said. "It is important to take care of yourself, go to your physicals, do self-breast exams, and protect yourself."