Newsletter

A Letter From Karen

KTSRBI 2018 Newsletter

Dear faithful KTSRBI family and friends,


The Karen T. Stall Research and Breast Institute has made incredible strides over the past 12 months! Your generous support has helped us to achieve our goals and so much more. I can’t wait to share our progress with you!


Our Sip to Save! event last September was a huge, fun success. We entertained more than 525 guests at our home, and the evening was filled with great giveaways, silent auction, and our jewelry raffle. Dr. Maureen Hecker-Rodriguez was the winner of the beautiful bracelet donated by Aucoin Hart Jewelers. Delicious food was served and savory wines flowed until late into the evening. We were entertained by Kyle Thomas and the band Westend as we raised nearly $100,000. Over the last 18 months, your kind donations have generated more than $150,000 in support of our goals. Please mark your calendars, save the date for September 15, 2018 and join us for this year’s Sip to Save! party. Advance tickets and sponsorships may be purchased online, and details are available at KTSRBI.org


Your participation over the last year and a half has continued to support our endowment agreement with Ochsner, and we are proud to announce that we have also partnered with UMC-LSU. All locations of the Ochsner Health System and locations associated with UMC-LSU offer our services providing 3-D mammograms to eligible candidates wanting the very best breast screening available on planet earth. Hundreds of patients were assisted with their 3-D copays because you cared enough to make a difference. 


Some patients have disabilities that prevent them from being able to stand for a mammogram. KTSRBI purchased 2 hydraulic chairs for the Tansey Breast Center designed specifically for patients with physical challenges. We can truly claim that KTSRBI makes sure that everyone has access to 3-D technology, regardless of economic roadblocks or physical limitations. Your kindnesses have made these major milestones realities. 


Our foundation has also been able to provide outdoor bench seating for patients at Tansey Breast Center. Cancer treatments often take a toll on the energy levels of patients, and having a place to sit and rest while awaiting transportation is greatly appreciated. Again, your support made this gift possible. 


Presently, KTSRBI is in the process of purchasing 300 robes for the Tansey location. Patients will be able to wait comfortably for screening in warm robes instead of cold hospital gowns or paper smocks. Thank you all for making this small creature comfort a sweet plus during a sometimes stressful procedure.

 

Just this past spring, with the help of Representative Julie Stokes and Representative Patrick Connick, Louisiana joins Texas and 5 other states mandating that 3-D mammography is now the standard breast screen offered, and not second choice. As of January 2019, insurance companies doing business in Louisiana will have to cover the copays for 3- D mammograms. No longer second choice, 3-D mammography is now offered as the first line of defense in detecting breast cancer in its earliest possible stages. Remarkable, proactive strides are happening in the war on early detection and defeating breast cancer. Your continued support has helped to make this dream a reality. 


KTSRBI continues its partnership with the Bobbetta Lindig Breast Center at Memorial Herman, Memorial City campus. Additionally, our presence in Houston, Texas is expanding. Our foundation is working to partner with Houston Methodist! As soon as the details are finalized we will announce our latest mission which will be very uniquely developed for this breast health institution. 

As more states make 3-D the standard breast screen for mammograms, our mission at KTSRBI will morph with the changing times and needs. Our services will provide a more tailored fit for the individual health care facility partnership. Blazing new trails in research and providing tailored services will be the order of the day. 


On June 2nd, 2018 KTSRBI hosted its first Art walk! Local artists were featured at 13 Nassau Drive, displaying their talents while dedicating a portion of the proceeds to KTSRBI. Again we were entertained by Kyle Thomas and Adam Pearce of “The Voice,” singing and playing music while patrons strolled through the yard, sipping mimosas and enjoying the artwork. The weather was quite warm, so next year we will make this an April event. A big thanks to all of the participating vendors and patrons!


Last November 2017, I humbly accepted the honor of Miracle Maker of the Year bestowed by Gayle Benson for our KTSRBI partnership with Ochsner Health System. Together, we are focused on beating breast cancer. 


On September 14th, 2018 The Cancer Crusaders of New Orleans, a group in support of cancer research at UMC-LSU and Tulane is recognizing KTSRBI with Representative Julie Stokes and the success we have had in passing House Bill 460. This bill specifically ensures that 3- D mammography is the standard in Louisiana. 


But in reality, the true miracle makers and crusaders are YOU, the KTSRBI family. All of this progress would not be possible without your continued support and generosity. 

Please remember to save the date and join us for another fun evening, Sip to Save! on September 15, 2018. Almost 100% of your donations are used for our mission, detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages and supporting research to find the cure. 

KTSRBI has no salaried employees as all of the love, labor and fundraising is supported by volunteers. Your gifts are always put to proper use. Wherever funds are raised, those donations stay within the local communities. 


Thank you wholeheartedly for your continued support of the Karen T. Stall Research and Breast Institute. You are truly making a difference by saving the lives of so many people. None of our successes this past year could have happened without you, and thank you again for being a part of the KTSRBI team and family.


Warm regards,


Karen T. Stall

Founder


image1

Rep. Julie Stokes

  

Foremost, Julie Stokes is the mother of two beautiful children, Brandon and Taylor. Julie and her husband Larry live in Kenner surrounded by friends and a loving family. 


Julie is a CPA and State Legislator who turned her cancer struggle into a legislative mission by passing bills requiring that insurance companies cover both 3D Mammography and follow-up diagnostic scans after breast cancer is cured. No cancer should be missed when a life can be saved.


She also worked with Senator Troy Carter and his niece, Chontel, to require that breast cancer patients are given full disclosure about their restorative options. This knowledge enables every woman to know that breast cancer does not have to mean an end to her physical wholeness. 


Julie continues to work on funding solutions for Louisiana’s cancer research institutions so that our state can become a destination for cutting edge treatment and our people can receive more of their treatments right here at home. 


The Young Adult Cancer Alliance honored her for her legislative efforts to help young adult victims of cancer preserve their ability to become mothers and fathers once they become cancer survivors. 


Julie is currently running for the position of Secretary of State of Louisiana. She hopes to share her vision of a 21st century Louisiana, to make sure that our elections are secure, and to help our entrepreneurs turn their dreams into profits and jobs. 


“At the time I received my cancer diagnosis, I was as happy as I had ever been. I was a wife, a mother of two incredible teenagers, and running for State Treasurer. I was feeling as though I was fully living out God’s purpose for my life. Having to give up my professional dreams and face the fear of leaving my family behind was a crushing blow. It was the toughest fight of my life. But I have been blessed with the miracle of being diagnosed cancer free, thanks to the work of great doctors and the accomplishments of science over this disease. I pray to be able to use this experience to propel me to service others living with this diagnosis.”

image2

Rhonda Dean

  

It all started when I turned 18. During my routine visit to my doctor, they found a tumor in my right breast. To my relief at such a young age, the tumor was benign. Years later, throughout my 30’s and 40’s, mammograms continuously showed dense cystic breast tissue. I can remember undergoing numerous mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI’s, aspirations,  needle biopsies, and minor surgeries, bringing that anxiety and fear of cancer closer to the surface. I felt as if there was nothing I could do but wait for the cancer to develop. My oncologist surgeon, Dr. Alan Stolier, was diligent in scheduling my mammograms and ultrasounds. Though the time was very stressful, I felt confident that Dr. Stolier had my best interest at hand.


Thirty years after they found that benign tumor in my right breast, the C word finally raised its ugly head. I was promptly diagnosed with Moderately Differentiated Ductal Carcinoma. Looking at my young daughters, my marriage, career, and future I’d hope to have, the overwhelming thoughts of what is going to happen rushed through my mind. This was an extremely vulnerable and awakening time in my life. After thinking about my family and considering our lives together, I decided to immediately face the option of a double mastectomy. I felt this was the best option for me and my future with my family. Soon after I underwent the double mastectomy, I was put on Tamoxifen. This led to the precautionary decision to undergo a total hysterectomy. Throughout these significant, life-changing surgeries, I have never regretted a single decision. I can proudly say that I am now approaching 5 years cancer free. I am blessed to have so much love and support from family and friends, and I am beyond grateful that God has allowed me to continue my journey. 





image3

Wanda Theriot

image4

In the fall of 2012, my radiologist discovered a “concerning spot” on my yearly mammogram.  After additional testing including an ultrasound, a second 3-D mammogram (at that time only available at the main Tulane hospital), an MRI and biopsy, it was determined that I had two malignant masses in my breast.


My husband and I did a significant amount of research on the subject, determining which course of treatment (both surgical and pharmaceutical) was our best bet or hedge.  Gambling with your life in the truest sense.  (Otherwise known as “the year of living dangerously.”)


Moreover, our decisions as to treatment had to based and balanced upon the fact that we were the parents of (then) a six year old daughter and a two year old daughter.  Our goal was to be sitting together at their respective high school graduations. 
In summary, I was blessed with skilled surgeons and oncologists, and on August 25th, 2018 I will be six years breast cancer free.  My husband and I are profoundly greatful for this outcome, and can only hope and wish for this same blessing for others fighting the same disease today.

Andrea Blalock

My mom and her two sisters are all breast cancer survivors. In March 2017, I had a 3-D mammogram done. It was the second year it was offered, and I chose that option both years. Prior to that, I had a mammogram done every year since I was 35, but 3-D had not been offered. When I got the call that I needed to come in for an ultrasound, which was followed by a biopsy, I was still confident it wasn’t going to be anything serious.

  

On May 15, 2017, my life would be forever changed. The nurse called and asked if I could come in that day to talk about my results. I called my husband and asked him to go with me, as I knew they were going to tell me I had cancer. I was told it was stage 1 breast cancer, and my gynecologist set up an appointment for me with a doctor at the Ochsner Tansey Breast Center. 

  

Following that appointment, I had a breast MRI, which found breast cancer in the 2nd breast. This solidified my decision to have a double mastectomy. I also decided to use my own fat to reconstruct new breasts in lieu of breast implants. Once the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon was selected, I had a CT Scan of my abdomen. The scan revealed spots, which my doctors thought was melanoma on my liver, since I had melanoma in two areas on my body in 2016. I had a liver biopsy, which resulted in a diagnosis of Sinusoidal Dilatation of the liver. I have never been so relieved to not have liver cancer and ONLY have breast cancer. My attitude changed at that moment, to “I can and WILL beat this!”

  

On June 28, 2017, I had a double mastectomy and my first reconstruction surgery. In July, I began 12 weeks of weekly chemo therapy treatments. I lost my hair in the first three weeks. In November 2017, I had my second reconstruction surgery and a full hysterectomy, since my cancer is estrogen fed. I have continued to have chemo every three weeks from October 2017 through August 2018. I can’t wait to get my port taken out and be able to say “I made it through and kicked cancer’s butt!” 

  

It has been a lot to go through and none of it was fun, but it was not a bad year. It was just a bad thing to go through in that year. The one piece of advice I would give anyone starting with this journey is that attitude is 99%! Keep that smile on your face and put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. You will get through it and it will be a blip on the radar of life.

  

I have so much to be thankful for in this year. I am thankful for the love and support of my husband, who was there every step of the way cheering me on. I am thankful for all of my friends and family who were also huge supporters. I have a wonderful work family who banded together to supply meals and their precious time off that they graciously donated to me. Most of all I am thankful that I was raised in the Christian faith. It was my faith in God that got me through it all. In the end, I am so lucky to remain on this earth and I will continue to appreciate every moment! 

image5

Myra Mier Miramon

image6

  

My name is Myra Mier Miramon. I was born in Havana, Cuba to a privileged life. My family moved to New Orleans after the communist takeover of my country.


In this new home I continued my ballet training and took several pedagogy courses in New York City. I became the director of the Myra Mier School of Ballet and the Jefferson Ballet Theatre company. Throughout the years I have taught thousands of students and presented hundreds of ballet performances. Some of my students became choreographers, teachers, and professional dancers in ballet companies throughout the U.S.  After 40 years of teaching, I retired to be a hands-on grandmother to three baby girls.


This is how I discovered my cancer. I was watching a tv program about a bilateral mastectomy patient and I decided to do a self-examination. I found a lump in my breast. I immediately called Karen Stall (one of my former students) in order to get her guidance and help. She has been with me through this whole ordeal. I had a 3D Mammogram and after a lumpectomy, invasive and in situ lobular carcinoma was found. I had a bilateral mastectomy with lymph node removal and a DIEP Flap reconstruction. Since my MamaPrint results came back low risk, I haven’t had to go through radiation or chemotherapy. I was so lucky to find this cancer at an early stage.


I am grateful for my surgeons Dr. Ralph Corsetti who performed the bilateral mastectomy and for Dr. Robert Allen (pioneer of the DIEP/SIEA/S-GAP/I-GAP perforator flaps) who reconstructed my breasts. These two doctors with their skills and compassion took such great care of me and made me whole once again.


I want to thank my family and friends who have kept me strong and positive throughout this life changing experience.

Sherling Brignac and Sherling Werner

Sherling Werner

  

Just Breathe. That became my mantra when I decided to start training for a half marathon in the July heat at the age of 24….never running before besides running late. Little did I know I would be saying it more than just when  I was wearing my running shoes. A year later, I found my lump while stretching after a workout….Just Breathe.  I was 25, just bought my first house and planning a wedding. I knew my family history, and being employed in the imaging field, I knew what I was feeling. There was no question in my mind what the next steps were. Through the entire process (biopsies, imaging, mastectomies with reconstructions accompanied by setbacks, possible infertility, chemo, radiation, and hair loss) came great gain. I gained inner strength I didn’t know I had. I gained compassion for never knowing what others were going through in their lives. I also gained stronger bonds with not only people I already knew but also people I had just met. Most importantly I learned to not sweat the small stuff, and try my best to step back and Just Breathe. 


A wise woman told me at the beginning of my diagnosis This isn’t necessarily a club you want to belong to, but it’s not a bad one to be a part of.  I know in my heart that I went through everything I did to help others be better prepared to go down the same road and God has blessed me with that opportunity frequently at work and with my mother’s diagnosis just months after mine. That wise woman was Karen Stall, and she could have never been more correct. 

image7

Sherling Brignac

  

After finding a lump in my right breast from itching my Breast Dr got me in immediately and on Dec. 30, 2010 we stared at the ultrasound screen knowing it was Breast Cancer but no one uttering the words. My doctor immediately performed a biopsy while one of my Zumba Sista’s held my hand. The only thing running through my mind was “This couldn’t be happening for I needed to be able to help take care of my baby girl” whom was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer in Oct at the age of 25.  January 3, 2011 (age 48) it was confirmed that I had Stage 1, Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I still remember the day I went to her house to tell her, she held my hands, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Momma we will get through this together.”  At this point my daughter Sherling Brignac Werner and myself were tested and found to carry the BRCA 1 Gene and my older daughter also carried the gene. After completing my treatments, I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. My older daughter chose to become a Previvor and had a bilateral mastectomy after we finished our treatments to help fight her chances in getting Breast Cancer.  My daughter is now the 5thgeneration on my mother’s side and the 3rd on my father’s side to be touch by this monster. While going through treatments I continued teaching my Zumba Classes and still do and help in educating my girls and guys in knowing their bodies and checking themselves monthly and demand the proper testing, stand up for yourself and your health.  Breast Cancer helped me to stop and take in the beauty in which God has created every day. It also had me fall In Love with my Husband all over again. Life is not about waiting for the Storm to Pass but Learning to Dance in the Rain. 

image8

Features

Positively Houston (2013)