Video Transcript: Deaf women share their breast cancer journeys

TEXT: No one said it was an easy battle when you are fighting cancer. "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand." - Mark Twain. Not even cancer.

ANNETTE NITKO: I want to share something with you. When I became bald during my treatments, my husband tended to rub my head every day. You know, like a peach. Soft and fuzzy. Every day, I loved him rubbing my head with his hands. When my hair grew back, he stopped doing it. I'm disappointed! I wish he kept touching my hair.

SANDY RITCHEY: Before chemotherapy, my hair was straight. Through chemotherapy, my hair started to fall off. I became bald. I looked at myself in the mirror in amazement. My doctor did warn me that when my hair grew back it would be curly. I was very curious. Then my hair started to grow back - curly. But it was white! So, I decided to dye my hair. At my first attempt, it became purple! Ugh! The box said dark brown, but my hair was purple. Um, I was pissed - #%@! Again, I bought another hair dye product. My hair must be dark brown! After dyeing my hair again, it became red. Ughh! So, I gave up and decided to go to see a hairdresser. I got it professionally done. Now, it is dark brown! Thank god! Plus, my hair is very curly. Now I am very happy!

JANET JANSEN: A mirror. I looked at myself. I had a white top and gold earrings on. I was also bald. I looked at myself again. I looked like Mr Clean. Whoa! My friends decided to call me Mrs Clean.

PAM DIAZ: Hi. We have seen people with cancer going through treatments, losing hair, and wearing wigs or scarfs. Let me show you something. Wait a minute. It is okay to wear a wig. The key is to have a positive attitude. If you are going through with tears, depression, or feeling hurt, we will support each other. With the wig, so what. We know that our hair will grow back later. Just be positive.

ANNETTE NITKO: When I was living in South Dakota, I found out that I had breast cancer. There were no other breast cancer survivors who were deaf or hard of hearing in the area. I went through a rough time and I wasn't able to discuss or share my frustrations, because no-one understood what I was going through. I felt alone. Later, one friend told me that there were other Deaf breast cancer survivors. I was thrilled that I was able to talk about breast cancer with other Deaf survivors. We kept in touch through videophone. It helped me a lot, but it is not the same as talking with someone in their physical presence. I decided that, after my treatments, I was going to set up a breast cancer support group for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people in my area. After I moved to St Louis, Missouri, DEAF Inc. asked me if I would like to set up one. I said, "Yes! I definitely want to. I'd love to." It is rewarding to help other Deaf people who are going through cancer treatments. No-one deserves to go through this experience alone, not after what I have already gone through. I'm grateful that DEAF Inc. gave me this opportunity.

PAM DIAZ: When I found out that I had breast cancer, I had no support. No-one to go to. I had one friend who supported me. Then I found out about more friends who were supporting others. If you have cancer of any kind, we will support and help you.

SANDY RITCHEY: I had many supporters from all over the world, but I couldn't find a breast cancer support group for the Deaf people in the world. Then I met Janet, who also had breast cancer. She gave me a lot of support. Again, I met Amanda, who is also a breast cancer survivor. Finally, together we formed a support group for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Now, we can help you!

JANET JANSEN: When I first found out that I had breast cancer, I was scared. A friend of mine suggested that I contact Pam for support. Without that love and support through the Deaf community, I would be lost. I am thankful to have a Deaf support group. We will support and help you, no matter what cancer you have. Don't give up!

TEXT: There is hope. Pink Wings of Hope. DEAF Inc.
www.deafinc.org/pink
pink@deafinc.org

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