Two local women grateful for help during breast cancer journey

Two local women grateful for help during breast cancer journey

From left, Mary Shiner, Binghamton, N.Y. resident Kat Bolden, and Gordon Shiner pose for a photo at a recent Traci’s Hope fundraiser, for which Bolden won a basket. Bolden has had surgery and treatments this year for stage two breast cancer and is thankful to the organization for their assistance. (Provided photo)

For two Southern Tier women who have undergone breast cancer treatments, focusing on their health was first priority. Managing living expenses and paying bills timely was challenging, however help from the local organization, Traci’s Hope, alleviated some of that stress. 

The organization maintains privacy and rarely meets its recipients. As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, the two recipients featured in this story wanted to share their journey.    

“I feel fortunate to be a recipient of their help two times,” explained Endicott resident, Dee Pado, and she added, “It’s a big load off of your mind when you’re undergoing treatments.”

Pado, first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, had a subsequent diagnosis in 2014. Via her oncologist’s office, Pado completed an application for Traci’s Hope assistance. Approved twice, Pado’s requests helped with co-pays and home taxes.                  

Pado explained that a routine mammogram in 2005 resulted in her first diagnosis, where she also learned she has dense breasts, and whereby digital mammography, or ultrasound, is a better test method. Then at age 57, she underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. The second occurrence also included chemotherapy, as well as a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  

Grateful for support from family and friends, Pado finds that her journey has created new connections that may not have otherwise happened.  

Ongoing, a support base of people has continued to help her feel “not so all alone.” Today Pado follows up regularly with an oncologist and other medical specialists.

As a way to give back, Pado and her co-workers at an Endwell hair salon have participated in annual fundraisers such as bake sales and raffles, which in turn benefit Traci’s Hope. 

“It’s a great cause, and money stays right here in our area,” Pado commented.

Pado recalled a conversation with Traci Gibson, whom she contacted to discuss planning a fundraiser. Gibson, the Traci of Traci’s Hope, passed away in 2006 and is the inspiration behind the non-profit organization which was set up to lessen the burden of expenses such as childcare and mortgage or utility bills, among others. The organization helps individuals in Broome and Tioga counties in New York and Susquehanna and Bradford counties in Pennsylvania.  

Pado remembers Gibson saying, “You can join my bandwagon anytime you want.”

Kat Bolden, of Binghamton, N.Y., was diagnosed earlier this year with stage two breast cancer. In April, Bolden’s physician identified a suspicious lump during an annual check-up. A mammogram and other tests diagnosed breast cancer.

Bolden had a double mastectomy in June. Currently going through the reconstruction phase, Bolden will have implants put in later this year.  

Since the cancer drug administered also puts her into a high-risk category for uterine cancer, a hysterectomy is another future surgery. After about five months of surgery and treatments, Bolden was able to return to work recently.

Considering all that she has faced, to date, Bolden explained that her journey does have some positive notes, specifically the fact that cancer did not reach her lymph nodes.  

She commented, “I did not need chemotherapy or radiation.” Going forward, Bolden will regularly follow-up with doctors.

Bolden explained that the Traci’s Hope application process was presented to her through her doctor’s office. Easy to complete, she applied to use the funds to pay towards COBRA and electric bills. 

Bolden shared that her case took her by surprise, and while there is no other family history of the disease, it calls out the important point that regular checkups and mammograms are vital. 

Both Pado and Bolden encourage everyone to get annual mammograms and share a common message, “Early detection is key.”

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