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Three women Tough Enough to Wear Pink - and beat cancer - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 07/25/2013

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN — Joanne Pro Tefertiller seemed perfectly healthy up until the day before Thanksgiving. That’s when the 60-year-old Kaysville resident was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Four years ago, 56-year-old Debbie Kelly, of Pleasant View, received the same diagnosis of breast cancer. Just south of Kelly, in Ogden, Wanda Fear, 84, had battled cancer three times — two bouts of breast cancer, one of colon cancer.

On Tuesday, during Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the beginning of the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo, the three women, along with several others in the community, were recognized for their “toughness” in fighting the disease.

Cowboys, executives, children and volunteers were all wearing pink in an effort to bring about awareness of the disease that has been diagnosed in more than 10,000 Utah women already this year.

Pink water bottles, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, sunglasses, hats, boots and even a few horse tails were also part of the scenery.

“I feel very honored to have been invited to the rodeo tonight,” Kelly said. “This has been a difficult journey, and the one thing I’ve learned is the importance of a mammogram.”

Kelly had missed her annual mammogram for three consecutive years. When she scheduled an appointment and had the mammogram, she was shocked to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“I had the most wonderful doctor, Larry Smithing, and the most wonderful surgeon, Sheila Garvey. If it hadn’t been for them, my family and my friend Sheryl Grant, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said.

“When I got the diagnosis, my husband said he was going to make it his job to make me laugh every day, and he did.”

Today, Kelly is free from cancer and is expecting a grandchild later this month.

“There is sunshine on the horizon,” she said. “But it is so very important not to miss those mammograms.”

Fear was diagnosed with breast cancer 29 years ago, when doctors found the disease just before Christmas. During a test to check the cancer cells, a wire broke off inside Fear’s body, and doctors had to remove more tissue to get the wire out.

Fear said it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“When they pulled the wire out and stuck it under the microscope, they found a second type of breast cancer,” she said. “That was only God’s doing.”

Fear was treated at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden by Dr. Vincent Hansen. After beating the disease, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She has been free from cancer for 10 years and plans to stick around as long as possible.

“My grandma always told us that cancer was not going to beat her,” said granddaughter Monica Dolan. “When God wants her, he’ll take her, but cancer isn’t going to take her.”

Pro Tefertiller is still undergoing breast cancer treatment. She recently finished with chemotherapy and is awaiting radiation treatment.

“I think I’m pretty lucky,” she said. “I’m lucky they found it and can do something about it. When they sent me tickets to the rodeo, I was very excited. I hope we don’t have to do any mutton busting to show how tough we are, but I think it’s a pretty neat deal. I’m feeling pretty blessed these days.”

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of death among women. It is estimated that more than 220,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 40,000 will die, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

While some risk factors, such as genetics, can’t be avoided, many can. They include a lack of physical activity, being overweight or obese, drinking alcohol and smoking.

Research is also showing the possibility of light at night being a risk factor, as well as some of the chemicals in cosmetics, such as parabens and phthalates.

Screening mammograms are recommended for women beginning at age 40 — sooner if there is a family history of the disease.