An Inside Look at the Breast Cancer Battle

Individuals from all over the world are battling the Breast Cancer illness and its complexities for decades. Kiana Hatley is one of many who have been diagnosed with this illness. Kiana “Bobo” Hatley was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. In January 2015, she diagnosed with a very aggressive form of the illness: triple negative breast cancer.

Hatley explains her Breast Cancer diagnoses came after a long recovery from lymphoma. At the Martin Luther King parade, Kiana Hatley, her husband Isaac, and her two children let the news set in while they sat in the car. She describes it as a very overwhelming experience. Isaac and Kiana Hatley have been married for 11 years. Isaac Hatley said his biggest concerns about his wife’s diagnoses and their struggle is losing his wife, but he knows she will be able to fight through it.

Kiana and Isaac Hatley in Los Angeles, CA
Kiana and Isaac Hatley stand side by side at Kaiser Hospital, Los Angeles during her chemotherapy treatment. Photograph by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

There are even more individuals who know somebody close to them that has been affected by the disease. According to cancer.gov, there are an anticipated 14% of new cases of breast cancer this year. Overall, this disease expects to take the lives of over 6.8% of people by the year’s end. These statistics may seem overwhelming. This year, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer just in the United States. The count for males fluctuates at a lower ratio. From statistics gathered this year, the United States has more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer, according to BreastCancer.org.

Statistics Infographic
These statistics highlight the diagnosis breakdown for 2015. Infographic created by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

Breast Cancer is treated in several ways, including radiation, surgery, and the most commonly known, chemotherapy. Individuals fighting the disease go through physical and emotional symptoms when receiving these treatments. The symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment varies from losing hair, nail discoloration, anxiety, and depression, to name a few discoveries made by Patient Education & Counseling international journal. Hatley believes that her mindset makes a big difference in handling this illness, which proves to show a significant reduction in psychological distress.

Kiana Hatley
Photograph of Kiana Hatley. Photograph by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

Hatley describes current days through chemo treatment as up and down. Hatley stays involved at work and with household responsibilities but every so often, she will experience severe reactions from the chemotherapy, which often send her to Urgent Care. Not everyone endures such severe symptoms; it typically depends on the severity of the cancer. However, she says that her family dynamic and support system are key factors when going though her treatments.

Chemotherapy/Radiation
The photograph seen here is Kiana Hatley undergoing her third month of chemotherapy. Photograph by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

In Los Angeles County, Breast Cancer Journal found that quality care for breast cancer has been rapidly evolving; it has been a huge focus for our community health system, especially large hospitals. In other words, we are significantly improving the way we help individuals fight this disease. Providing better quality of care for individuals undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, general treatment, etc. has been a continuous issue for years. Now, more organizations are focusing on these “building blocks” for how they care for their Breast Cancer patients.

Infographic for Breast Cancer Screenings
This infographic compares the percentages for early breast cancer detection. Infographic created by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

Breast Cancer diagnoses often go overlooked. In a cross sectional study performed by the British Journal of Cancer, there are cases of Breast Cancer that go overlooked in the medical field during the first check up. Studies found that over 31% of all exams “missed” the initial diagnosis. Consequently, 10% of the study found possible delays in diagnosis, and 49% of cases diagnosed on time, or with little delay, from physicians.

Hatley says the only reason she found the cancer is her self-diagnosis and breast exam. She describes her discovery as coincidental, because women typically get their first mammogram at 40 years of age or later.

Mike North's support for a cure.
Mike North holds up the shirts that he wears to show his support. Photograph by Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

Mike North lives in the San Fernando Valley. North’s involvements for Breast Cancer Awareness include over 30 Breast Cancer Awareness events and campaigns. In 1998, North’s wife, Linda, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She had a very aggressive form of the illness and at one point, she was terminal. The personal battles that his wife and daughter faced inspire him to find a cure.

Walk for a cure
Individuals congregate for a walk to fight Breast Cancer. Photo: AP Images

North said walking for the cause makes a difference because some funding goes to research companies while other funding distributes to individuals fighting the disease. Consequently, corporate moguls are becoming involved in the Breast Cancer Awareness movement that we see around the Los Angeles area. For example, Oticon, the second largest hearing aid manufacturer, joined the Breast Cancer battle by donating $10,000 towards eradicating the disease. This is one of many organizations looking to eradicate Breast Cancer by the year 2020.

Groups from all around the world are looking into numerous ways to improve the overall care and treatment for Breast Cancer Awareness. The American Journal of Managed Care is focusing on the quality of care that Breast Cancer patients receive. They asked several physicians that are caring for patients with Breast Cancer about financial incentives. Their study finds that new approaches need to direct financial incentives for quality toward specialists outside of staff- or group-model HMOs, in order to improve patient care.

Dr. Gia Sison
Dr. Gia Sison advocates for social media awareness and Susan G. Komen. Photograph: Facebook.

So why do we not have a cure yet? Dr. Gia Sison is a Breast Cancer survivor, practicing physician in Manila, Philippines, social media advocate and top Kred 1% influencer in her community. Dr. Sison shares her experience of handling the disease, and pointing out the main treatments used worldwide. 

Dr. Sison believes that there has been progress with Breast Cancer treatment and research, but we still have a big problem, especially internationally. Additionally, Sison also advocates for Race for a Cure, a well-known icon affiliated with Susan G. Komen, Breast Cancer Awareness, and the eradication of this disease.

Dr. Sison on Social Media
This is a screenshot of Dr. Sison’s involvement with social media and Breast Cancer Awareness. Screenshot: Leilani Spring Fischbeck

Six thousand miles away from the Philippines, Eva Agocs has battled and survived Breast Cancer, twice. She is a Breast Cancer advocate in her country. She grew up in Nagykoros, Hungary. In 2000, came her initial diagnosis. Agocs describes her initial treatment in Hungary, translated by Hungarian native, Aba Horthy.

Eva Agocs, Breast Cancer Survivor
Eva Agocs, seen here, describes her treatment for both of her Breast Cancer battles. Screenshot: Leilani Spring Fischbeck.

Her second diagnosis was April 2015.

“The first time, they took out my lump from the right breast. I got chemotherapy six times; this means for half a year. I also had radiation 25 times. They weren’t able to take out the lump because it had spread. And for my safety, they did a double mastectomy.”

On an international scale, Breast Cancer is treated is numerous ways. Agocs does not see progression with Breast Cancer treatments, and searches for answers. She does not believe that treatment has improved. Quite oppositely, she believes we are moving in reverse.

“For preventing cancer, I don’t the doctors are doing anything. For treating it, they give chemotherapy and radiation or surgery. They do not have alternative treatment. Fifteen years ago, it was the same treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.”

As of today, Kiana Hatley and Eva Agocs have been Breast Cancer free.

Photo: Associated press
An example of global recognition for a Breast Cancer Cure in Jerusalem, as seen here. Photo: Associated Press

Individuals like Hatley, North, Agocs, Sison and thousands of others can relate to the affects of Breast Cancer. In addition, on an international scale, we are still striving to make progress for eradicating the illness. Treatment options have expanded, but statistics and prevalence rates remain the same. Our community can find out more about Breast Cancer at local events to raise money and awareness here or on Twitter.

For more health related news, please visit Health Break with Leilani Spring.