Fans attending Sunday’s battle between the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Panthers were treated to more than just a basketball game.
The University of Illinois Cancer Center sponsored a resource fair prior to the game and a concert following the contest, which the Flames won 74-59. Booths were set-up throughout the Credit Union One mezzanine where fans learned about cancer clinical trials, how patients are assisted from initial diagnosis through treatment and beyond, as well as offerings from health-related agencies such as All of Us and the Lymphoma Society. A concert featuring performers KAMI, Ric Wilson and DJ Jukie Tha-Kidd ended the afternoon.
Prior to the concert, Robert Winn, MD, director of the UI Cancer Center, welcomed the crowd and introduced them to the UI Cancer Center and also to Christine Adley, a survivor who has lost her right leg and both breasts to cancer.
“If there’s anything for you to take away from my talk it’s know your body,” said Adley to the crowd, who lives in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. “I listened to myself and did my own breast exam. I took my health into my own hands.”
Adley, 23, felt a small lump in her breast last year. Since she survived a rare cancer when she was two-years-old, she knew she needed to act quickly. She visited her primary care physician, who sent her to a hospital to undergo an ultrasound. Adley was told by the health care professionals that they could not see anything, but in a matter of weeks the one lump turned into three.
Following a return visit to her primary care physician, Adley was then referred to University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System, where another ultrasound was performed. She was told that the lumps were most likely solid, benign tumors and not cancerous, but they were removed nonetheless. While there is no history of cancer in her family, a biopsy revealed Adley had stage two, triple negative breast cancer.
“My heart dropped when I was told,” Adley said. “It was truly my biggest fear.” Doctors told her that if she had not caught the cancer early, “it could have metastasized up to five different cancers.”
Due to a rare gene mutation, Adley could not undergo radiation treatment. She endured eight rounds of chemotherapy, where she lost all of her hair and several pounds, and also had a double mastectomy.
After all she’s been through, how is Adley feeling today? “Happy, healthy and cancer free,” she said.