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breast cancer

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After a tough year battling breast cancer and emergency surgeries, this local lady is now cancer-free on a mission to spread awareness and begin her new job anchoring at Cincinnati’s No. 1 news station.

Meghan Mongillo was diagnosed with breast cancer last March, she is now cancer-free. Photo: Sherri Barber Photography
Meghan Mongillo (Photo: Sherri Barber Photography)

“It’s been seven months since I found out I had cancer. I am proud to say I’m cancer-free.” Those are the words Meghan Mongillo can now say with a sigh of relief.

Mongillo’s story goes back to March, when she felt a small lump in her breast. She went to the doctor, who told her it was likely just a clogged milk duct. Following an annual visit a few months later the lump wasn’t anywhere to be found.

After going about her life, Mongillo’s now-fiancé Adam found the lump again and said something to her. “That lump was small (1.3 cm), and in a difficult spot,” she explains. “In fact, it didn’t even show up on the mammogram. It was under my armpit, on the underside of my breast toward the back. It was also deep inside the tissue. I couldn’t feel it unless I was laying on my side with my arm lifted above my head.”

Because Mongillo is young and her cancer is 100 percent estrogen-driven, her health care providers recommended that she undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy, which she agreed upon without hesitations.

Mongillo had the surgery in March. She says the double mastectomy and reconstruction was a difficult process for her and she ended up having a problem that required emergency surgery. “My final surgery was in October,” says Mongillo. “It’s been seven months since I found out I had cancer. I am proud to say I am cancer-free.”

Since the battle against breast cancer has hit so close to home for Mongillo, she’s now making it her mission to get involved in raising awareness to fight the disease. She will now serve on the board for Susan G. Komen. “I took part in the Race for the Cure and have met with the leaders of the organization,” she says. “I’m excited to be a part of that group in 2016.”

Another organization that Mongillo has an affinity for is The Pink Ribbon Girls, as they provided her with meals and house cleaning during her recovery.

Throughout her journey, Mongillo says that she’s learned to never take life for granted. “Cherish every moment,” she says. “Embrace your relationships with family and friends. Listen to your own body and those around you. If you feel a lump, get it checked out.” When she says get it checked out, Mongillo means to get it thoroughly checked out, because she didn’t at first.

Mongillo also wants those at home to do self-breast exams. “When you do, make sure you lay on your side with your arm up,” she says. “That’s what I want you to remember: On your side, arm up.”

As a tumultuous year comes to an end, Mongillo says she’s looking forward to 2016. “I have a new job as an anchor and reporter at Local 12 WKRC,” she says. “I love Cincinnati and can’t wait to be back in town delivering the news at the No. 1 station.”

Mongillo previously worked at Fox19 in Cincinnati and is currently on ABC22 and FOX45 in Dayton. She will begin at WKRC in March 2016 as weekend anchor. In addition to the professional success and progress in her health, Mongillo is also now beginning the wedding planning process, as she got engaged on Dec. 20.

To learn more about Mongillo, visit her Facebook page.

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Fashion while benefitting a great cause – can you think of a better way to spend a Monday night? See how a local salon is taking the fight against breast cancer to the runway.

The runway at last year's Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser, hosted by Valenti Salon
The runway at last year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser, hosted by Valenti Salon

Dealing with sickness or significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Vanessa Pilger, Marketing Manager at Valenti Salon, knows this first-hand.

“I lost my dad to chronic lung disease two days before Christmas back in 2011 and I was only 29 years old,” says Pilger. “He was my cheerleader in life and always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. Watching his health get worse and knowing there was nothing I could do to fix it was a heartbreaking experience.”

Having worked for Valenti Salon & Spa for 12 years, Pilger has found more than just a place to work, but a family as well. “The owners of Valenti, Vince and Anna Fischer, lost their mom years ago to breast cancer. Having lost a parent certainly puts that experience into a new perspective,” she says. “I had this idea to raise money for such an important cause while also honoring those directly affected by it.”

Today, Pilger’s idea has now become a reality. “It’s something that I hold very close and dear to my heart,” she says. “To be able to raise money and find a cure for a disease that takes so many ‘parents’ away from their children is something I can smile about. Working in a business with primarily women, we have seen so many clients directly affected by breast cancer.”

Thus far, Valenti Salon has been able to raise $11,000 and Pilger hopes to keep that number growing. “We honored over 100 survivors last year – and giving them a night to remember while showing off the skills of our talented stylists is what the night is really all about,” she says. “My personal goals for the event are to continue raising more and more money for these two, GREAT foundations, and to grow the audience of survivors we honor.”

This year’s event will be held on Monday October 19th at 7:00 p.m. at the Newport Syndicate. “It has a theme every year and this year its “The World of Beauty” showcasing what beauty looks like in different cities around the world,” says Pilger. “Proceeds will benefit The Karen Wellington Foundation and American Cancer Society Making Strides.”

“By adding The Karen Wellington Foundation to the fundraiser last year and getting to meet her family and friends, it made everything that much more special,” Pilger continues. “I have also visited and participated in some of the local programs that the Making Strides campaign offers, and seeing how much better these women feel after receiving their free wig as well as all of the research that is being done here locally keeps it here in Cincinnati.”

The event is just for a few hours and includes a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, split the pot, Survivor Tribute with slideshow and a song written just for them (available on iTunes), and the hair and fashion show. Tickets are $25 pre-sale and $35 at the door, or you can reserve a table of 10 for $250, which gets preferred seating near the stage.

“My favorite part about the evening is by far the Survivor Tribute,” says Pilger. Some of them have been survivors for many years and some are currently undergoing treatment – so honoring them to remind them how strong they truly are is always touching. We seat the survivors together (if they wish) and it’s neat to see the relationships that form, and hopefully, further support for the future.”

If you’re a survivor or you want to honor someone else that is a survivor or someone you have lost, contact Pilger directly at vpilger@valentisalon.com with the persons name and photograph. “We want to honor as many survivors as possible – and they receive a free ticket of course – so it’s open to the public,” she says.

For tickets to this year’s fundraiser, call or stop into Valenti Salon. Pilger says there will be an online ticket version up and running within the next few days, and to stay tuned to their Facebook page for the link.

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Learn about the upcoming event that brings together like-minded and passionate people to hit the green “fore” an important cause.

062215HEALTH

Unfortunately, everyone knows someone affected by breast cancer. That’s why the organizers of Pink Ribbon Classic decided to launch their event.

“Over the years, they have had the faces of those affected by breast cancer in their hearts, so they simply did something about it,” says Sandy Hicks, Pink Ribbon Classic committee member. “We aim to offer a day which is filled with great golf, food and overall love fest celebrating survivorship – remembering those who may have lost the fight as well those left behind to fight on their behalf.”

After working alongside the Rally for the Cure organization for seven years, the Pink Ribbon Classic Committee chose to become independent as an opportunity to generate more revenue for the Komen Foundation. In 2009, The Pink Ribbon Classic was established as a new club sponsored ladies event – attend by men golfers, as well.

The following year, The Heritage board advised the committee that the event must become a private event – club supported but not club sponsored. “This created a new opportunity in some unchartered waters,” says Hicks. “The Pink Ribbon Classic Committee and The Heritage members invested heavily in developing, promoting and supporting the event with an unexpected outcome of being able to donate $35,000.”

As for Hicks, she became involved with The Pink Ribbon Classic when she was invited to be a member of the 2009 planning committee. “I had the privilege of being the chairman for a couple years working with a dream team of committee members, which was responsible for expanding the event and significantly increasing revenue raised each year,” says Hicks. “This event is responsible for raising over $100K for Komen Greater Cincinnati.”

According to Hicks, the event has grown significantly over the years because of the women and their men who have come forward to show their support. “Komen Greater Cincinnati even recognized the ‘jewel’ that this tournament is and has offered the committee access to their resources, which was an unprecedented and very generous gift,” she says.

The Pink Ribbon Classic, a one-day golf tournament benefitting Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati, will take place Monday, June 29 at 12:30 p.m. The event is $200 per player or $800 for a foursome – and $50 for dinner only. The event includes 18 holes of golf, a silent auction, raffles, games, wall of wine, dinner and more. This year’s golf tournament is in memory of Josie Shuler.

As for Hick’s goals for the event, she ultimately wants to introduce people to the resources that they may not be aware of, direct them to the Komen Greater Cincinnati website and educate them about how the organization can help. “We all know that this event has positively affected the direction of awareness, healing, breast cancer research and each person who has been apart of it,” she says. “We hope that the horizon will continue to shine with hope.”

Not only does Hicks encourage people to look around their own communities and see what their hearts are moved by, but she wants them become involved in whatever that may be. “People may want to start and build an event that supports a need,” she says. “Breast cancer touches every life directly or indirectly, however, there are so many causes and needs that abound requiring someone to reach out and help. We all encourage them to take that next step – and they will be so glad they did.”

To learn more about the Pink Ribbon Classic, click here or contact The Heritage Club in Mason at (513) 459-7711.

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See how this local lady’s inspiring story is paving the way for a business that puts women’s needs first.

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Looking for the unique products and individualized attention you don’t find at the big box stores? Busom Buds, a privately owned woman’s boutique, offers a wide variety of unique inventory to give you a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

Coming up with the name, “Busom Buds” was a no-brainer for owner Emily Smith. “My mom has always been my best friend, and her nickname for me growing up was ‘Bud’ or ‘Buddy,’” she says. “I was my mom’s buddy and we were always together. The ‘Busom’ part came from my mom’s breast, which was affected by breast cancer.”

1465860_588043451274674_1849746854_o“The way she was treated during her treatment was cruel and no other woman should ever have to be treated like that,” Smith continues. “This is why I decided to open my own store. I wanted to make sure that woman are treated the way they deserve to be treated.”

This endeavor ended up being a perfect fit for Smith and her mother. “My mom went through the cancer, but not alone,” says Smith. “I was right there with her the entire time. Our experience proved that we both can relate to the other women in need.”

Smith went on to start her business in an office space in 2006, later expanding to a storefront in 2008, and then finally moving to their new location in 2012. “I am proud to say that we even have an online store now, which allows us to go worldwide.”

Busom Buds carries bras sizes A28 to 56N, underwire and non-underwire, nursing bras from A-I, post surgical camisoles, mastectomy bras, Nite Sweatz for ladies going through menopause, jewelry, Big Buddha purses and they also specialize in breast cancer prosthesis.

According to Smith, what truly makes Busom Buds unique is that they care about each and every person that walks through the door. “All the products we carry are also very unique, such as Spanx, Poo-Pourri, Sonoma Lavender, WubbaNub, Foxers and several more,” she says. “Our story is simple. We are different and actually care about our customers.”

As for Smith’s goals for the boutique, it’s all about getting her name out there so she can continue educating women. “Since 90 percent of women are currently in the wrong bra size, I would ultimately like to reduce that by 50 percent within the year,” says Smith. “I would also like to educate women and let them know that we’re not just a breast-cancer store, but that we also handle every day needs for ladies.”

Smith hopes to someday launch a new store in another state, listing Florida, Texas or Arizona as potential possibilities. Until then, she plans on continuing to hold events at the boutique as a way to create awareness and inform women

To learn more about Busom Buds has to offer, visit www.Busom-Buds.com or call (513) 870-0074. You can also stop in at the boutique Monday thru Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. located at 7558 Voice of America Centre Drive in West Chester.

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