Lori Donovan cruised up to Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana in a white convertible. As she walked into the building for what seemed like the millionth time, a fluid stream of memories came rushing back. They were tough memories, too.
Memories like the first day she stepped into Cancer Services looking for help.
Donovan was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first time, at age 39. She said it happened as a fluke.
While preparing for another surgery, she was required to have a mammogram.
That's when the doctor saw something abnormal.
“If I wouldn't have been doing that (surgery), I mean, I probably wouldn't have found it until I was 45 or 46 when I was going for my first mammogram. It could have been worse,” she said.
But when they found the cancer in January of 2009, it was early; Stage One in fact. The doctors required a lumpectomy and radiation. Upon reconstruction from the lumpectomy, another mammogram showed the cancer had come back.
Once again, she had cancer. Once again, she had a decision to make.
Upon the second diagnosis, many things ran through her mind:
-I can't believe this is happening.
-I did all the right things.
-What's it going to mean for me and my husband?
-How am I going to look?
-Am I going to be appealing?
-Am I going to have a feminine figure?
-How much was it going to change me?
After you have radiation, you cannot have it again. She knew it was an ultimatum. Was she going to have to have a mastectomy?
She knew she had to see someone. Tat's when she went to Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.
“The hospital told me there were resources at Cancer Services. It was soon after my bilateral mastectomy in early 2010. I borrowed books and got supplies. Then I was assigned an advocate. He let me know he was there when I was ready.”
Now, after being in recovery for a few years, Donovan is thankful for her relationship with Cancer Services. So much so, that in the last few years, she has participated in the annual Bust A Move event.
Bust a Move is a fundraiser benefitting Cancer Services hosted along with The Fort Wayne Derby Girls. In its sixth year, it's an opportunity for breast cancer survivors to celebrate life and the beauty of the female body.
To create the bust, the cancer survivor applies baby oil to her chest for a clean removal and then volunteer Derby Girls cast the topless woman piece by piece with paper mache and plaster.
“What's really cool is there are no gasps or whatever. They accept you for what you are. The first time I wasn't through my reconstruction, and they didn't react at all to it. It was wonderful,” she said.
Then after the bust is finished, it's given to an assigned volunteer artist.
Donovan felt very lucky to have a friend, and co-worker, Dave West, design her bust. In 2012, her bust design represented the beauty of the female body. This year, West used Donovan's cancer journey as inspiration.
Amber Recker, director of marketing and development for Cancer Services, said the event is a very unique opportunity for cancer survivors as well as the artists.
“It's an interesting event because it's transformative and therapeutic for the survivors. It's really touches the artists and the art community in a unique way. The artists really take to heart the fact that this form they are working with is really a woman and she beautiful and they want to help her celebrate,” she said.
In the first few years, Recker had to track down artists to participate in the event. Now she has a stack of applications on her desk for the selection process.
Recker said Bust a Move is a high energy event.
The event is not a stiff, formal or stuffy event. It's laid back and casual. Tickets are $25, but they do sell out fast. The decorated busts are auctioned at the event. Last year, the best selling bust went for $8,000 while a few others sold for $4,000.
This year, as always, they are hoping to raise even more money to provide services to the 2,500 people, just like Donovan, who walk through the door battling cancer every year.