'Cancer is not a sentence': Long Islander survivor advocates for breast cancer research
She is a mom, wife, retired nurse and cancer survivor. And now, she's one of Long Island's leading advocates for breast cancer research.
It was 10 years ago that Valerie Mortimer heard the words that no one ever wants to hear. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2010, she was diagnosed with stage 3, and treated with radiation, mastectomy and chemo.
Just when she thought the worst was over - she had a back injury and found out she had metastatic breast disease in her bones, and since then it spread to her liver.
She's now in a fight for her life, because metastatic breast cancer is not curable.
But Mortimer has not given up hope. In fact, she has been fighting since 1998, well before her own cancer story began, as a participant in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
"In the past, I've raised a couple of hundred dollars, and now we really have to kick it up, so we formed Val's Pals - in the first year we raised $10,000," says Mortimer.
The annual fundraiser fuels the research and development of new treatments that can help prolong and save lives.
"You need that research to be done, you need those drugs to get to the market, so that people going through what I am going through, will keep living," she says.
Now only a few days away from her 60th birthday, Mortimer credits her quality of life to her treatments along with a healthy lifestyle, her support system and her attitude.
"Cancer is not a sentence, it's a mindset and I choose every day to be positive, I choose to focus on what's good," she says.
Mortimer also takes part in Strength for Life - an organization dedicated to providing free exercise classes, wellness retreats, and other programs to cancer patients and survivors on Long Island.
BREAST CANCER RESOURCES:
Strength for Life is dedicated to providing free exercise classes, free wellness retreats, and other free programs to cancer patients and survivors on Long Island. Their programs are designed to enhance the recovery process of persons with a cancer diagnosis. Services include educating cancer patient, caregivers and the medical community on the benefits of incorporating exercise and other modalities into the treatment plan and its effect on reducing the risk of certain cancers and re-occurrences. All programs are free of charge thanks to grants, private donations and fundraisers.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill their mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers in-person experiences and on-demand emotional, practical and evidence-based content that is meaningful to those newly diagnosed, in-treatment, post-treatment and living with metastatic disease. For nearly 30 years, Living Beyond Breast Cancer has imparted wisdom and connection via conferences, events, a peer-to-peer helpline, and more.
NIH's website for researching available clinical trials. This site allows patients and their families to search for actively recruiting studies that they may be able to participate in or learn about new interventions/treatments that are being considered.