Power in pink


Nicole Seagriff stands proud in pink, representing the 288,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Courtesy of Vince Gravinese

Just eight days after Convent of the Sacred Heart alumnae, Nicole Seagriff, posted her personal story about breast cancer on the Cable News Network (CNN) website, 26, 645 individuals rushed to read the survivor’s story.

Nicole, a graduate of the class of 2003, was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few days after her 27 birthday. Given that Nicole had a very high long-term risk of recurrence due to genetics, Nicole believed that a bilateral mastectomy would make the most sense for her treatment.
“I couldn’t imagine going through this again or living through the fear and the dread associated with frequent testing if I did lumpectomy or a unilateral mastectomy,” Nicole said in her post.
Each case of breast cancer however is unique and impacted by various different factors. Even with three family members afflicted with breast cancer, and the presence of the BRCA2 mutation, Nicole’s chance of developing breast cancer, was one out of 20,000, at her age.
The presence of cancer in Nicole’s family, and in her own life contributed to shaping Nicole’s future plans.
“For both my mother and father, early detection saved their lives, which is what shaped my interest to pursue my master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner and a primary care provider which focuses on preventative medicine,” Nicole said in an email.
Nicole hopes that more individuals will utilize early detection through screening such as mammography, and will try to catch this disease at the earliest stage possible. However, even today, risks accompany early detection.
“The concern with screening at younger ages is that there is a very high risk for false positives in testing which can cause a lot of undue stress to the patients and families and medical expense,” Nicole said.
After Nicole completed her surgery, she immediately began preparing for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer at which she was asked to give the opening speech.
“Training to walk 39 miles was an inspiration for me after my first surgery to regain my strength and is keeping me in great shape for my second surgery in December,” Nicole said. “It’s also been a great way to channel my energy into something positive against this disease, between fundraising and awareness.”
Though there has been many great strides in breast cancer awareness and treatment, Nicole strongly believes that there is much to be accomplished. According to nationalbreastcaner.org, the National Breast Cancer Awareness month, which happens to be in October, is solely dedicated to “educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health.”
On and off the fields, sports teams are helping raise awareness of breast cancer. National Football League players wear pink cleats. Rowers competed in pink boats at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston Massachusetts. Even Sacred Heart athletes can be spotted by their pink shoelaces.
I think the most important thing that anyone can do is to be aware and educated about their health.  Each person is their best health advocate,” Nicole said.  “The best advice I could give as a healthcare provider and as a recent cancer survivor would be to know your own body and to trust your instinct.”
Nicole has been humbled and touched by the comments and messages that have flooded her inbox after her post went live on the CNN website. One comment reads, “What a wonderful story of facing the unthinkable to save your life.  May you now go on into a long career providing the blessing of your service to so many others. Congratulations survivor!”
“I truly believe that God has a plan for everything that happens in life and perhaps sharing my story was meant to encourage some people to consider their own risks and be pro-active about their health,” Nicole said.

Nicole’s story on CNN: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-851205
National Breast Cancer Awareness Homepage: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/
– Catherine Considine, Online Editor