By Ashley McCarty
The Adams County Board of Commissioners and guests gathered at the courthouse in West Union, Ohio, on Oct. 12 for the designation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Whereas, National Breast Cancer Awareness is dedicated to increasing public knowledge about the importance of early detection of breast cancer by collaborating with several national public service organizations, professional associations and government agencies who together to ensure that the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month message is heard by thousands of woman, men and their families; and,
“Whereas, every year approximately 40,290 women and 480 men in the United States die of breast cancer. Breast cancer has touched us all and is still impacting far too many of our loved one; and,
“Whereas, the 2.8 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States today are a testament to courage, as well as the importance of promoting awareness about breast cancer, providing information, funding research, following recommended screening guidelines and offering treatment to those who are affected.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved; the Board of County Commissioners hereby proclaim the Month of October 2021, as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” throughout all of Adams County and encourage all employees to volunteer to wear pink on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. We ask all citizens to join in this worthwhile cause, to celebrate successes and memorialize lost battles.
“In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hand on this 12th Day of October, in the year of our Lord, two-thousand twenty-one,” said Commissioners Ty Pell, Diane Ward and Barbara Moore.
Present at the dedication was Debbie Fannin, 65, of West Union, who had personal reasons for attending.
Her story began in March of 2015, where, after months of feeling ill and unknown illness, she was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“It was totally life-altering for my family, and we’re still making adjustments. Well, my family practitioner, Angela Shupert, would always remind me to get my mammogram. I would always say I hadn’t gotten it, but would, with no intentions to do it. Angela saved my life. At the end of the year, I told my husband that I was going to go ahead and get my annual tests caught up, otherwise, she would never leave me alone. They would bug me about it. So, I got my mammogram and thought nothing about it. They called me back for another mammogram, still didn’t think anything about it — it happens all the time,” said Fannin.
When it was suggested that Fannin have a biopsy, her concern, rightfully, began to grow.
“But, I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was still adjusting my entire life. There was no way I was going to have breast cancer. Three days later, I get the call to come in. On the way over, I remember saying to my husband, ‘can you imagine if they said I had breast cancer?’ We were both like, ‘well, that’s not going to happen.’ Well, it did happen,” said Fannin.
That day, she was diagnosed with breast cancer — and it was aggressive. The tumor was invasive and prone to spread.
“You never forget the words. I remember where she was sitting, I was sitting and my husband was standing. I physically turned around, because I couldn’t figure out who she must be talking to. It was that much of a shock. On the way home — and I remember where we were exactly — I said, ‘I have to warn people.’ That was what I thought of. If this can happen to me, it really can happen to anybody. I wanted to stand on the courthouse square with a megaphone and scream for people to get their mammogram,” said Fannin. Three years ago, she did just that.
“Since then, the motto I go by is, ‘we rise by lifting others.’ Whenever somebody says they got a mammogram because of me, whether it’s good or bad, I rise. That helps me when I’m depressed,” she said.
On Sept. 29, Fannin reported that she had her — hopefully — last surgery related to breast cancer.
“It’s a difficult decision to get a double mastectomy. The only good thing is, it was done. Had I not went and had my mammogram when I did, I don’t know how long I would have lived. That’s why I say Angela saved my life,” she said. As of now, Fannin is in remission.
“Don’t think it can’t happen to you, because I was you,” she said in an effort to warn others.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fannin will host a two-day event on Oct. 23-24 from 2-6 p.m. at the courthouse in West Union.
“In the gazebo, I will have a memorial where people can write their loved one’s names, or write notes and hang it for others. I will also have games for the kids, and will be raffling off a Susan G. Komen bicycle and a golf bag,” said Fannin.
Raffle tickets will be $1/ticket. The proceeds will go to an Adams County resident in need.
“As one of the approximately 2.8 million breast cancer survivors, this dedication is both critical and personally emotional. People get complacent about screening and we need to continue to send out the message that early detection is critical to help save lives from this terrible disease,” said Commissioner Moore of the dedication.