Tackling Breast Cancer

Paul Versluis

What do the two words—breast cancer—mean, besides a disease that impacts the lives of millions?

They’re fighting words. A familiar part of society’s conversation. When spoken in succession by an oncologist or typed side-by-side or printed on the front of a brochure they mean business. They signal that more and more people are getting involved in the cause, not just in writing a check and moving on. The words “breast cancer” don’t define those diagnosed with the disease, but rather transform women and those around them. Words of strength, hope and life are used to tackle cancer: family, friends, faith, courage, determination, action, and attitude.

Here are the words of some of your neighbors and how they tackle those two words: breast cancer.


Tracy Lenihan

Overland Park

Diagnosed: January 2010

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Tackling cancer: “A wonderful husband and support system and terrific doctors and nurses at KU Med. It takes an army to fight the battle, definitely. I no longer take anything for granted in life; try to be fully present and live in the moment. I am very hopeful.”


Verda Salberg

Overland Park

Diagnosed: October 2008

Stage IIB/Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, ER Positive, HER2 Negative with lymph node involvement

Tackling cancer: “Once I came out of denial, I focused on getting out of bed each day and putting one foot in front of the other. Relied heavily on my husband John and my little girls for emotional stability. Many friends and Bentwood Elementary school teachers and families provided meals and help with the girls during the toughest months of treatment—some dark times. My awesome team of doctors is still essential in my wellness program.”


Julie Levine


Diagnosed Breast Cancer: May 21, 2008

Stage III/Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

Diagnosed Lung Cancer (a second primary cancer): Jan. 6, 2009

Tackling cancer: “Head on … I had no choice if I wanted to stay alive. Aggressive treatment: chemo, seven surgeries, radiation, and more chemo for the lung. I made a decision to fight this miserable disease with as much dignity and grace as possible. I have tried to teach my children that it’s not what we are dealt in life, but rather how we deal with it, that makes us the person that we are.”


Paula Little


Diagnosed: November 6, 2007

Stage I/Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Tackling cancer: “By letting go and letting God take over. Support from my church family and friends were amazing. When I returned from my surgery every tree on my street was garnished with a pink ribbon. We heard singing on Christmas Eve and when we looked out our house had been decorated in pink lights and there was a group of friends caroling. People’s faith kicked in and their acts of kindness were truly beautiful.”


Karen Hancock

Overland Park

Diagnosed: Feb. 2005

Stage I/Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

Tackling cancer: “With the love and support from family and friends. A team of prayer warriors and the belief that I was not alone in my fight. My treatment game plan was surgery, chemo and radiation. Each milestone my kids reach and that I’m here to be a part of is the score of a lifetime to me.”