Nascar Race for a cure

Women's Health | 8 months ago

Breast Cancer Survivors Raise Awareness at Paint the Wall Pink and NASCAR Drive for the Cure

Atrium Health Levine Cancer patients and breast cancer survivors Patrice Bidgood and Destiny Medlin are passionate about breast cancer awareness. They recently participated in two Atrium Health-sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness Month events: NASCAR Drive for the Cure 250 and Paint the Wall Pink.

Atrium Health Levine Cancer recently sponsored two Breast Cancer Awareness Month events: Paint the Wall Pink, where volunteers paint the Charlotte Motor Speedway pit road pink, and NASCAR’s Drive for the Cure 250.

Two patients, Patrice Bidgood and Destiny Medlin, represented Atrium Health Levine Cancer at the festivities. Both women are proud advocates of breast cancer awareness.

Patrice’s story

Patrice, now 40, was 34 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During an at-home breast exam, Patrice discovered a small lump underneath her left arm. She had just lost her mother to breast cancer the month before and was immediately concerned.

Because Patrice was in the process of getting insurance coverage at the time, she was connected to Levine Cancer  Project PINK, which allows eligible women a free screening mammogram and follow-up care (diagnostic screening, ultrasound and biopsy) if recommended. Project PINK covered the costs for her mammogram, biopsy and genetic testing, which found she had a PALB2 gene mutation, which can increase a woman’s breast cancer risk.

When her results came back, Patrice was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Her doctor recommended a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. She continues to get an injection monthly and a chemo pill daily. Now that she’s past the five-year mark, her medical team is gradually reducing her dosage as she is in remission.

“It was a very difficult process, losing my mom and then going through treatment,” says Patrice. “I was so depressed.” 

But thanks to the support of her family, friends and Levine Cancer team, including surgical oncologist Dr. Lejla Hadzikadic Gusic and medical oncologist Dr. Seungjean Chai, Patrice made it through treatment and is determined to raise awareness of breast cancer.

“I want to tell my story and help other people,” Patrice says. “After seeing what my mom went through, I told myself I have to share my story for her, my family and other women just like me.”

Patrice was thrilled to participate in Paint the Wall Pink and NASCAR Drive for the Cure 250 with Levine Cancer .

“I was super excited to meet new faces and be around people who support women with breast cancer,” Patrice says.

As Patrice reflects on the past six years, she offers this advice to other women: Trust your intuition. 

“If your body is telling you something is wrong, get checked out sooner rather than later,” Patrice says. “Early detection is so important.”

Destiny’s story

Destiny, now 31, first noticed a lump in her breast when she was 26 and in nursing school.

“I thought it was weird and I mentioned it to my mom, who encouraged me to go to the doctor,” says Destiny.

Initially, her physician suspected a fibroadenoma (a non-cancerous breast lump). She was told insurance wouldn’t cover additional testing, so an LCI team member suggested she contact Project PINK for assistance. 

Destiny went on to have an ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy. The day after her biopsy, she got the call: It was an aggressive form of breast cancer called triple-negative ductal carcinoma. It was stage IIB.

Destiny was shocked.

“I had no family history of breast cancer,” she says.

Genetic testing indicated she had no genetic mutations that increased her risk of breast cancer.

“I don’t smoke or do drugs; I eat healthy and work out,” Destiny says. “I kept asking myself what could have caused the cancer, but I could never answer the question. I had to stop asking why and put my energy into fighting it.

Destiny’s medical team recommended radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. She was immediately concerned about chemotherapy because she wanted to have children one day. Her surgeon gave her the OK to delay treatment while she went through the fertility preservation process. She also took a leave of absence from nursing school to focus on treatment.

Destiny then underwent six months of chemotherapy, including an aggressive form of treatment known as “the red devil.” She took a month to recover and then had a lumpectomy. A month after surgery, she completed 31 days of radiation and returned to nursing school.

“It was very scary,” says Destiny. “But I remained positive the entire time. I had to. I kept thinking, ‘You’re going to beat this and be OK.’ I practiced gratitude and when I went for treatment, I reminded myself that my nurses were there to save my life.”

Now, several years after finishing breast cancer treatment, Destiny is thriving: She’s a mom to her 1-year-old daughter and she’s a cardiac nurse. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a career as a pediatric oncology nurse.

Destiny is grateful to her Atrium Health Levine Cancer team, including Hadzikadic Gusic and medical oncologist Dr. Julie Fisher.

“I 100% recommend Levine Cancer Institute to anyone I know who has been diagnosed with breast cancer,” Destiny says. “My experience there was fantastic. I was valued and they took my concerns seriously. I felt like I was in great hands. They have the best cancer care.”

When she was first diagnosed with cancer, Destiny was worried the disease would derail her dreams of becoming a nurse and mother, but she was determined to stay positive.

“If you’re diagnosed with cancer, don’t give up on your dreams and goals,” Destiny says. “I finished school, became a nurse and became a mom. There was a delay, but cancer never stopped me. Accomplishing these goals is the greatest feeling in the world.”

Participating in Paint the Wall Pink and NASCAR Drive for the Cure means everything to Destiny.

“I was super excited,” Destiny says. “I was only 26 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it’s important to me to get my story out there to help other young women.” 

Learn more about breast cancer care at Levine Cancer and schedule your mammogram today.