Beverly Austin beat breast cancer with help from City of Hope. She’s using the second chance to make a difference in the lives of others.
Beverly Austin came to City of Hope for cancer treatment. She left with a mission.
It started in 1998, with a devastating phone call from her doctor. Austin, then 40, had early-stage breast cancer.
Initially, the news was a shock. True to her spirit, though, she quickly resolved to handle the battle with a positive attitude, bolstered by the love and support of family and friends.
Surgeons removed the lump shortly after her diagnosis. But the rest of her treatment — chemotherapy and radiation — promised additional challenges. Then a friend suggested that she get radiation treatment at City of Hope, where she could not only get the most advanced radiation therapy, but also be close to her workplace, Southern California Edison.
“When I found out I was going to receive treatment there, I knew I would be in good hands,” Austin said.
By coincidence, Austin had visited City of Hope only three months earlier. Not knowing that she soon would be a patient there, she toured campus as a member of an Edison committee focused on employee giving. She was impressed with the hospital and campus, a feeling that grew when she came to know caring staff members personally as a patient.
The experience inspired her to become an energetic advocate for others with the disease.
Said Austin, “I’ve made breast cancer awareness my mission in life.”
Now 51 and in remission for 11 years, Austin continues to deliver on that pledge. She volunteers at City of Hope as a patient speaker, sharing her experience with others. She has given a number of talks at Edison as well. She encourages other women to seek regular mammograms, perform self-exams and get yearly physicals.
She also will participate in this year’s Los Angeles Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer Nationally Sponsored by Staples, scheduled for October. It will be her 11th year raising funds to support breast cancer research, treatment and education at City of Hope.
Each event brings back memories of her first time at Walk for Hope. Even though she still was tired from radiation therapy, the event ― and the comfort provided by family, friends and a community of survivors and supporters ― was “one of the most joyous experiences I’ve felt,” she said. Austin plans to return each year for the rest of her life.
The way Austin sees it, the cancer center gave her a second chance at so many things. Time with her son and daughter, now adults. Her career as a designer in Edison’s planning department. Enjoying the companionship of friends.
She simply wants to do whatever she can in return — for City of Hope and for women everywhere.
“Although it was sad when I was diagnosed, it ended up being a positive experience,” she said. “In a way, it was a blessing, because I’m able to give back to other people.”
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