What ‘Pink in the Rink’ Means to Survivors

“We will never ever give up hope.”

“Kiss cancer goodbye.”

“Hip check, body check, breast check.”

These are just a few of the inspiring “Pink in the Rink” messages that breast cancer survivors and their loved ones painted on the ice at Huntington Center in preparation for the 3-day celebration of breast cancer awareness to benefit Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio. And while the messages are impactful, meeting and hearing directly from some of the breast cancer survivors is even more powerful.

Meet breast cancer patients Audrey Barlumi and Latoya Lott, as well as their breast cancer surgeon, Anita Antoniolli, MD.

Learning It Was Breast Cancer
In June of 2015, Audrey Barlumi felt a lump and some pain in her left breast. After calling her OB/GYN, who advised a mammogram and a follow-up ultrasound, MRI and biopsy, it was discovered that she had stage two triple negative breast cancer. Audrey was terrified.

“It was probably the most scary thing I ever went through in my life,” Audrey says. “It was very emotional, fearing the unknown.”

Because cancer runs in her family, Audrey opted to receive genetic testing.

“The unique thing about this is that my aunt had ovarian cancer about eight years ago and we found out that she carried the BRCA 1 gene,” Audrey says. “Of course, I came back positive. My husband and I knew that we wanted to have kids, so we immediately went ahead with fertility treatment. We have three embryos now, and found out that they are all girls. My fear now are those three babies and if they carry the gene too.”

After going through 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy in January, and currently undergoing reconstruction, Audrey keeps a positive attitude and finds comfort in supportive events like “Pink in the Rink.”

“It’s like you’re a part of a different club.”

“It’s really great to see other people that are going through this journey come together,” Audrey says. “It’s like you’re a part of a different club. They’ll come up to you and hug you or give you a high five. It touches your heart.”

Finding a Community at “Pink in the Rink”

On Friday, February 26, Dr. Anita Antoniolli attended the “Pink in the Rink” event where she spent some time celebrating and relaxing with her patients.

“It’s great to see my patients year after year and catch up on what they are doing and what they’ve accomplished,” Dr. Antoniolli says. “Being a survivor empowers women, so just seeing what they’ve done with their lives brings me a lot of joy.”

In July of 2015, Latoya Lott discovered a small lump on the outer right side of her breast. She said it didn’t hurt, but was around the size of a pea. A biopsy revealed she had triple negative breast cancer.

“I was so young and confused. I didn’t know what to do” Latoya says. “Who do you really talk to beyond doctors? I didn’t really know a lot of people with breast cancer to even discuss anything.”

Fortunately, both Latoya and Audrey found hope and guidance from Dr. Antoniolli of ProMedica Physicians Breast Care. Dr. Antoniolli helped both women form a team of experts to help them through the breast cancer journey.

“She picked out my oncologist, my plastic surgeon, and I may or may not need radiation, we don’t know at this point, but she picked out the radiologist,” Audrey says. “I have never felt in such good hands in my life.”

Latoya shares these same feelings about the care she has received so far.

“It’s a relief to know you have support from Dr. Antoniolli and her staff,” she says.

Did you attend “Pink in the Rink 2016”? Share your experience with us in a comment below.