Breast cancer survivor will 'fight' for cure

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 7, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
Since Partners in Learning opened 15 years ago, there has been one figure consistent in the lives of all the children — Cindy Webb.
Webb started out at the early childhood center as a 3-year-old class lead teacher when the center first opened. Since that time, she’s worked her way up to becoming the early intervention director of children with special needs.
Now, Webb has a special need of her on. On Wednesday, she underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy at Rowan Regional Medical Center. After close to eight hours of surgery, she was doing well and even asked for a cup of coffee when she came out of anesthesia. She spent two days in the hospital and is now resting at home.
Her breast cancer was discovered after her primary care physician, Dr. Kim Myers at Rowan Family Physicians, sent her for a yearly mammogram. That mammogram came back “abnormal,” Webb said, causing Myers to send her back for another one. After seeing something on that one, doctors decided to do a stereotactic biopsy in which a needle was inserted into her left breast and tissue was pulled out and sent to pathology.
“Originally, after the stereotactic biopsy, I was just going to do a lumpectomy on my left breast,” said Webb. After talking with the internal medicine doctor, Dr. Jonathan Storey, it was decided Webb should have a breast MRI to make sure they were just dealing with the left breast. “It came back and showed there were more areas in the left breast and some showing up in the right breast.”
That is when Webb, with the help of her doctors, decided to simply have a bi-lateral mastectomy — the complete removal of both breasts and associated tissue. In addition, a lymph node was also taken for testing.
Prior to her surgery, Webb said she wasn’t really scared of what would happen in the future.
At first, she admitted, she was overwhelmed with her diagnosis of breast cancer. Then, it sank in and she handled it like she handles everything — one day at a time.
“I’m probably not as bad as some women would be because I went through it with my mother,” says Webb. “Usually what causes people to be fearful is fear of the unknown, but this is not unknown for me.”
Webb says it was because of her family history of breast cancer there is no fear factor there.
“It’s familiar to me,” she says. “I’ve come to accept this (bilateral mastectomy) was my decision. It just takes care of a lot of future concerns.”
Webb says her mother had the mastectomy done 15 years ago, and in that time, a lot of medical advances have been made and many other things have changed. For example, Webb had part of her reconstructive surgery done immediately after her bi-lateral mastectomy. Breast tissue expanders were inserted to help make complete reconstruction easier.
Her mother was 53 when her first breast was removed and 55 when she had the second removed due to breast cancer. Webb is 50.
“My sister is kind of concerned for herself and I’m kind of worried for my daughter down the road,” says Webb. That’s the fear of the unknown, but Webb says knowing your family history, as her daughter does now, will save her a lot of fear later.
Another thing that keeps her grounded is faith. Webb says prayer has helped her through many tough times in her life, and this is simply one more tough time that prayer will help her through. She let all of her friends on Facebook, and in life, know about her breast cancer so they could pray for her.
Partners for a Cure
Since finding out that she had breast cancer in early February, Webb said her co-workers have known.
When she first told them, “they all thought I was lying to them,” Webb said, laughing. Then, almost immediately, “they were all really concerned.”
“I said I was going to have to get one of those Relay for Life shirts that says, ‘Fight like a girl’ and April (Kluttz) said, ‘We’ll start our own team,’ ” Webb said. That’s when Kluttz set up a Facebook page titled “Cindy Webb: Partners for a Cure.” In addition, a Relay for Life team was also created at Partners in Learning.
Kluttz, the family support specialist at Partners in Learning, decided to take her role seriously.
“Partners in Learning is like a huge family,” said Kluttz. This goes for the students, their families and the staff.
“When one of the staff members goes through something, it affects all of us. When we all found out Cindy was going through this, we were devastated. We just all wanted to do something in her honor and support her — that she was going to get thru this and we are all here for her.”
That’s when Kluttz and the rest of the Partners in Learning family decided to start the team and help raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“We’re encouraging all the family members and staff that are not on a team already to participate and help support Relay for Life,” said Kluttz. The evening of the event, Kluttz said the team hopes to have a set-up of karaoke. People would pay to sing a song and the money would, in turn, go to Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
Partners for a Cure “just kind of blew up over a thought,” said Kluttz. Since that time, it’s gone viral. Partners in Learning started a Facebook page, “Cindy Webb: Partners for a Cure.” In addition, they’ve been collecting money at the center and selling brown T-shirts with the words “Fight Like a Girl” on the front in hot pink, and “Cindy Webb: Partners for a Cure” on the back. The shirts are selling for $12 each and are available at the Partners in Learning Center located on the campus of Catawba College.
The online portion of the team’s page, connected through the Relay for Life page, has raised $700 as of Friday, and the team has sold about $900 worth of the “Fight Like a Girl” tees as of last Monday. Partners in Learning will be raising money until the day of Relay for Life and even that evening at the event.
One thing Kluttz said they would be doing is putting 20-ounce soda bottles in each of the center’s 10 classrooms. One 20-ounce soda bottle will hold $100 worth of dimes, so if all the bottles are filled with dimes by Relay for Life, that’s an additional $1,000 the center will have raised.
“We also have an events committee that’s working on different classroom fundraisers as well,” said Kluttz. She didn’t want to hazard a guess on how much money the team will actually raise before the Relay for Life, which will be in Rowan County on May 13 at the Rowan County Fairgrounds.
Anyone who would like to support the Partners for a Cure team can stop by the school during the week to make a donation, or call the school at 704-638-9020 for more information about donating online. Shirts are also still available for $12 each.