Cancer hits home

‘Breast’ warriors combat disease

Chances are that breast cancer will touch people on campus in some way.
When the American Cancer Society Relay for Life came to Brentwood in 2005, David Wahl, workforce development manager here at Los Medanos College, joined the planning committee.
“I actually joined because I enjoy volunteer community service,” he said, adding, “At about the same time a close friend was diagnosed with cancer and the event became much more meaningful.”
Wahl helped with her care until, sadly, his friend passed away about a year later.
LMC soccer player Lauren Ayers and her family have now joined the fight as her mother Linda Ayers was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, after finding a lump through self-examination.
After finding the lump in July of 2013, Linda then scheduled an exam with her doctor and went in for a mammogram. Without warning their lives were turned upside down, Linda, along with husband Evan, went in for an update after two biopsies — they instead were meeting with a surgeon.
Linda’s husband was shocked, stunned and scared. “He said to us, ‘Oh, no one told you? You have breast cancer’.”
In the hustle and bustle of setting up appointments and procedures, nobody had informed the Ayers family of Linda’s diagnosis.
Surgery for a lumpectomy was then scheduled with three surgeons Sept. 2013.
Unfortunately, Linda’s margins were not clean. A lateral mastectomy was then scheduled three separate times before the surgeons were all available.
December 2003 she finally had her surgery, which went well. The entire tumor was removed and reconstruction began.
Ayers and her family came together. “When I first heard the news about my mom I was really scared. I had already lost two grandparents to cancer, and I didn’t want to lose my mom too,” said Lauren, adding, “I knew that my mom was strong enough to beat cancer, but it was still really hard to know that there was a possibility that we could be losing her.”
“When she was first diagnosed, I didn’t really believe it. I think I was in shock or denial, it didn’t even click with me,” said her daughter Beverly Ayers.
It finally clicked when her mom started going through chemo. “When she lost all her hair. That’s when it started to seem real.”
Still a strong supporter for Brentwood Relay for Life, Wahl and his family formed Team “Save the Ta-Ta’s.”
He explains, “We raise money by selling and/or renting decorated bras as a way to call attention to breast cancer awareness. We also distribute informational flyers about breast cancer during the event.”
With families, like the Wahls, volunteering for programs like Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society is able to get information out there. But for families like the Ayers, family, friends and faith keep them together. For them, when cancer rears its ugly head, sticking together is the best way to fight.
Aside from one fainting spell the day of her daughter’s senior prom Linda has been able to keep going. “I’m a rather stubborn person and am determined to be here for my family.” Linda strives to keep their lives as normal as possible.
“In all honesty it is my faith that gets me through. I wouldn’t be able to take my next breath without it. Family, Friends and Facebook acquaintances were a big part of keeping my spirits up as well.”
Each family member stressed the same thing; stick together, don’t give up and keep fighting.
Contact Linda Ayers at [email protected] for questions or advice on breast cancer.