Season of Hope luncheon, held at Lehigh Township Fire Company, Cherryville, on Sunday, brought mothers, daughters, and friends together to help raise money for a Franklin Township woman who is battling breast cancer. The luncheon also serves to raise awareness of the most common form of cancer in women.
This year's event, which was organized by the Woven Friendship branch of Longaberger Home Consultants, had dozens of women and children, and even a few men, filling the banquet hall to support Erika Moyer, who has been fighting breast cancer for two years.
Danette Troxell, a Longaberger consultant, welcomed the group and thanked all the companies and donors for the prizes for the Chinese auction, which was how the day's proceeds were raised.
After lunch, Rebecca Hrusovsky, a breast cancer survivor from East Penn Township, who was last year's honor recipient, spoke about her own experience with breast cancer and how she appreciated the financial support she received from the event. She praised those who helped her and her family while she was undergoing treatment.
She said last year's luncheon raised $4,000, which helped her pay medical bills.
"That was huge for us as we have a $6,000 deductible that must be met before our insurance kicks in," said Hrusovsky.
Her story began in October 2009, while she was in the middle of selling their home, with plans to renovate her mother's home and move in with her.
As the family embarked on preparing their home for market, she discovered a lump in her left breast. She had just turned 41 and discovered it because she had felt an unusual soreness in her breast and armpit.
She wasn't concerned because she knew that 80 percent of lumps are cysts or protein deposits. She pushed it to the back of her mind, but called her gynecologist and had an appointment in three weeks. She scheduled a mammogram and was scheduled for a needle biopsy the Monday after Christmas. Her lab results came back at 10:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve that it was malignant.
Hrusovsky said her husband, Tom, went with her to her next doctor's appointment, but honestly she only heard, "malignant, blah, blah, blah; aggressive, blah, blah, blah."
She was told her body naturally produced a protein that the cancer fed on. She underwent a breast MRI, a PEM scan and a hereditary blood test as well as other blood work.
"Before I knew it more strangers had touched my girls then I ever thought possible," she said. "All I could think of was that I don't have time for this. I have three kids, a house to take care of. I need to work. Our house is on the market."
She also feared telling her children and the rest of her family.
A lumpectomy was scheduled for February, 2010. She also had lymph nodes taken from her armpit to make sure the cancer had not spread to other parts of her body. The lymph nodes were clean and the lump was removed, but there were margins around the lump that were not clean. She had to have a mastectomy.
The operation was successful as it got rid of the cancer, but due to the protein her body produces, she had to begin chemotherapy along with the drug Herceptin, which is supposed to prohibit her body from producing the protein. A port was implanted in her chest for access to the chemotherapy drugs.
Hrusovsky shopped for a wig and cut her long auburn hair short to avoid the anticipated mess when her hair fell out.
She underwent chemotherapy and continues to take an oral chemo drug, Tamoxifin.
In the midst of treatment, they received an offer on their house. Her family was to move into her mother's basement until the renovations on her house could be completed. She was afraid that she wouldn't be up to the physical challenge, but her family helped her pack and paint, took care of her children and helped them move.
She has finished her chemo, but has not returned to work. She said she hopes to start working soon.
"If there is one thing I've learned through all this, it's that life doesn't stop just because you are sick," she said. "Actually life doesn't stop period. You have to keep going as best you can. Don't hold grudges. Live for the day and savor every moment you can."
Hrusovsky thanked everyone for their support, for her and Moyer.
"Erika is one of the most doting moms I have ever met," she said.
Moyer was 42 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010. She and her husband, Jeff, have identical twin sons who are 8 years old. She said that a mammogram found her breast cancer.
"My cancer had grown inward," she said. "It was about the size of a golf ball and had grown into my chest."
She had a double mastectomy and had started reconstruction when they found cancer again.
"My goal is to not have a doctor appointment for a week," she said.
Moyer said she usually has doctor appointments at least three times a week. She said she almost lost her life when her heart stopped during one of her surgeries.
Her husband, Jeff, asked, "When is it going to end?"
He often has to leave work early to take care of their sons.
"I cook. I clean. I do laundry and take care of the boys," he said. "I have to do for my children and I have to give Erika the support that she needs. We have to get through this. It's tough stuff, but I've got to take care of them."
Every year since 1995, Longaberger Company has raised funds for breast cancer research and education to fight breast cancer. To date, the partnership has raised $15 million and reached 20 million women with life-saving education.