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October 31, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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October 31, 2001
 

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story confinuedfrom page 8 n Rita Brucker's optimism shines through. Brucker said that the removal of her second breast "wasn't as hard as the first." She was not as emotionally involved, and was actually slightly relieved that she would be bilateral. A true optimist, always seeing the posi- tive, Brucker said her second mastecto- my meant, "I couldn't ever get breast cancer again." She attributes her recovery to opti- mistic determination, and to surround- ing herself with upbeat people "1 wouldn't associate with pessimists. It was a good form of selfishness. I want to be happy, and, by George, I'm not going to let anything interfere with that." She said that in life, "It's always a matter of things will get brighter." Though it was her own determina- tion that ultimately saved her, she said she could not have survived the ordeal alone In particular, ACS's Reach to Recovery Program was vital to her healing. Reach to Recovery is a group of cancer survivors trained by doctors to help recently diagnosed women, and to guide them through the recovery process. The program, said Brucker, "makes women know they are not alone. There are others out there who've been there, done that, and survived." She says everyone who helped her- including doctors, chemotherapists, and nurses- were compassionate and loving. Brucker said, "It taught me a lot about people in their pro- fessions." Her true friends, she said, were always there. "There were friends that disappeared- and that was okay." She said that she found out who her true friends were. Finally, doctors told Brucker that she was in remission Though it was a wonderful feel- ing to be told she could stop chemotherapy, she said that she felt insecure after stopping because "I didn't want to give up what was saving me." This feeling- the uncertainty asso- ciated with being finished with chemotherapy- is a common phenomenon among cancer survivors. However, not many people know this. Brucker said this is just one example of why support groups are so important for recovery- so that women know that what they are going through is normal, so they do not feel alone. She has much advice for recently diagnosed patients: "Never bypass legitimate treat- ments. They are absolutely vital." Further, "'Surround yourself with positive thinking peo- ple. If you ever need someone positive to talk to, call a volunteer or a support group." Above all, "Do NOT try to do it alone." Brucker also advises about prevention: "Breast self-examinations are so vital. Women should find out how to do them properly. Most women don't know what they're looking for." Also, women should have regular mammograms, and visit their doctor routinely lot breast exams. These steps are critical for early detection. Brucker notes that "A lot of peo- ple don't want to hear about it. They want to hide in the woods. But the more you know, the more you can save your own life." During her battle with cancer, Brucker did have flashing moments of "Will this kill me?" but she would immediately counter it with "Well, I'm not going to let it. I have too many wonderful things to live for." Indeed she does. A husband (Charles, to whom she has been happily married for 53 years), four children (Linda, Maria, Michelle, and Barry, a candidate tor re-election to the School Board), and eight grandchildren, one who is a student at El Rodeo. and another . who attends Beverly High. Two of her daughters have also triumphed over breast and ovarian cancer" Though Brucker said their diagnoses were a shock, "they knew that the possibility that they would have it was very great." Brucker was grateful that the span of their illnesses never over- lapped. "It gave us the time and the strength to support each other." Brucker added, "they gathered a lot of strength from seeing what I went through." She had set an example of Survival for them. They saw her recover and thought, "If you can do it, I can do it," the Same idea that is incorporated into a support group- to give hope and examples of survival. Because the support group provided by the ACS gave Brucker the will to recover, she now volunteers in several of their supportive programs. In addition to her participation With the Making Strides Walk, she is also the coordinator for Reach to Recovery, an instructor for Breast Sell-Examinations, a participant in the Relay For Life (a 24-hour Walk in Culver City), and a volunteer for both Kids' Sake and Tell a Friend, all programs dedicated to prevention and diminishing of suffering. She said, "The idea is to try to make it better. If people participate in helping others, they're always helping themselves." Brucker is a war hero in the crusade against cancer. Through her victory, she garnered an invaluable sense of life's preciousness. In her words, "Life is a bowl of cherries, but make sure you spit out the pits. That's the idea." The A CS Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk takes place on Sunday October 28 at the Rose Bowl #z Pasadena. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. For nzore in]b-rmation, call (888) 778-5900. For more volunteer opportunities with the ACS, call the Los Angeles Region Office at (213) 386-7660. is Bi slness In The company more people trust to insure their cars and homes can also help protect your business. State Farm insures more than 250 types of businesses. How about yours? See me: Marlene Brown, Agent Lic,# 0C54232 8326 Wilshire Bird Beverly Hills. CA 323-951-0393 Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. State l:2mn General hlsurance Company Home Office: Bloomington, lllimfis statefarm.comTM LOOKING FOR A UNIO PLACE TO DINE? ONE OF THE SIX BEST RESTAURANTS IN SANTA HONICAI Named otl June 18, '3OO by Choice Tables: Santa Monica 1414 Lincoln Blvd., & 'nta Monica ......... ..... 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