Mother And Daughter Breast Cancer Survivors Share Their Stories

April 20, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The Two River Times™ is a 2012 sponsor of “Paint The Town Pink,” an initiative presented by Riverview Medical Center to encourage annual mammography. Each week through May 12, the TRT™ will feature stories and blogs provided by Riverview Medical Center to encourage women 40 and older to have their annual mammograms.

L to R: Agatha Emmer, Mary Lenskold, and Mary’s daughter Jourdan.

LIKE MOST MOTHERS AND daughters, Agatha Emmer of Atlantic Highlands and daughter Mary Lenskold of Fair Haven share a family bond that is unbreakable. But unlike many other mothers and daughters, Agatha and Mary also share another special bond; they are both breast cancer survivors.
Mary was only 34 when she received the harrowing news every woman fears: “You have breast cancer.” Mary took the information in stride and was determined to not let her diagnosis defeat her. “I knew that with the support of my family and with the grace of God, I wouldn’t let this news destroy me.” After a double mastectomy, Mary is now approaching nine years cancer-free. ‘Throughout my entire recovery process, besides my husband, kids, and father, the one person that was my biggest cheerleader was always my mother.”
Agatha Emmer had always been an avid volunteer, giving of her time generously through the years to numerous organizations. “When Mary became sick all my volunteering came to a screeching halt so I could be there for her for whatever she needed,” says Agatha. In October 2010, Mary convinced Agatha to join her at the opening of the revitalized Women’s Center at Riverview Medical Center, where in attendance was the Paint the Town Pink Committee of which Mary was a member.
“I decided to dedicate myself once again to volunteering and chose the Paint the Town Pink Committee because of Mary and what she went through,” says Agatha. “The inspiration from the committee members I met that evening was simply electrifying, and I knew I needed to be part of this special group.”
Mary’s struggle with breast cancer once again became all too familiar to Agatha when she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself after a routine mammogram in April 2011. This time the mother and daughter nurturing roles were reversed, and it was Mary who was there to support her mother during her trying time. “I was relieved that my mother was so diligent about her getting her annual mammogram and it was caught early,” says Mary. “I told my mother that you may not think this now, but this is a blessing in disguise and you will be able to bless many more people through sharing your story.” Agatha is since cancer-free and for 2012 has donated her time to be the chairwoman of the Atlantic Highlands Paint the Town Pink Committee.
“The fact that there are still women out there who don’t get their yearly mammogram is just mind-boggling to me,” says Agatha. “I’m certain that getting my yearly mammogram saved my life, and I have a lot more living to do, especially with my husband, four daughters, and a dozen grandchildren – I’m not going anywhere.”
Paint the Town Pink 2012 runs from May 4-12. For more information about Paint the Town Pink visit the new website at www.PainttheTown and be sure to follow Paint the Town Pink on Facebook to see highlights of this year’s campaign and for a complete list of events and activities.

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