FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--When the executive director of a retirement community in Salisbury, NC, arranged to have a mobile mammography van come to the facility to screen the residents and employees, she had to be strongly reminded by her colleagues to visit the van herself. The mammogram Meg Veloff had that day proved to be abnormal and led to early detection and successful treatment of a malignancy.
"I learned that I need to make my own health a priority, and all women need to do that," she said at the second annual conference of the Industries' Coalition Against Cancer.
Ms. Veloff spoke at a session chaired by Richard A. Bloch, founder of the H&R Block Corporation and the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, in which cancer survivors told their stories. She emphasized that on-site workplace screening is a good approach for finding "sleepers" like herself, that is, women "who know better but are not looking out for themselves closely first."
Susan L. Scherr, deputy executive director of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, is a two-time cancer survivor. Noting that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, Ms. Scherr said, "I've been diagnosed twice, so I feel that I've probably helped somebody else's statistics."
Ms. Scherr's first cancer diagnosis of breast cancer came nearly 18 years ago at a time when cancer was not generally discussed openly. She was worried not only about losing her breast and possibly her life, but also about having people find out about the illness.
At that time, there was no language for talking about cancer, she said. At work, she told only her supervisor and returned to her job after only 2½ weeks. After treatment, she "didn't know what to call myself"--a cancer patient, victim, sufferer--and so decided not to think about it at all. Eleven years later when she was diagnosed with an aggressive uterine cancer, the situation was different. "I could talk about the cancer, and there was a lot of support," she said.
Because she was told in 1988 that she had less than 2 years to live, Ms. Scherr quit her job in order to "savor life" and do some of the things she had always wanted to do--travel, ride horses, arrange flowers.