LAKEWOOD - Terri Garbart was playing with her grandson in early February when he kicked her in the chest. The pain brought Garbart to discover the tumor in her breast.
According to Renae Thayer, Garbart's daughter, Garbart had been fighting cancer for two to three years before discovering she had it.
Garbart has stage 3 breast cancer. Cancer stages are determined by the size of the tumor combined with whether the cancer is in the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes contain certain types of white blood cells, and if the tumor spreads to them, it has the possibility of invading other parts of the body. Stage 3 breast cancer means the cancer has extended beyond the immediate region of the tumor and invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles, but has not spread to distant organs.
"Because it is in her lymph nodes, she can have a cancer cell anywhere in her body that is waiting to activate," said Thayer. "Which is the hope of the chemo and radiation - to kill any of that. Without chemo and radiation, because of the aggressiveness, she would have had an 86 percent chance of recurrence within the first 10 years. With chemo and radiation, she now has a 30 percent chance of it coming back anywhere else."
As a preventive measure, Garbart had a double mastectomy - the removal of the breasts to keep future cancer cells at bay.
Garbart will have five months of chemotherapy biweekly. According to Thayer, the first two months are the worst. Despite that, Garbart still works at Cummins Engine like she has for the last 30 years, missing only a half a day when she goes for radiation treatment.
"The biggest thing is her strength," Thayer said. "I think you have to be this way in this situation obviously, but she's been so strong and confident."
Born in Jamestown and growing up in the Cassadaga Valley area, Garbart wants to help spread breast cancer awareness.
"It makes her feel good knowing that she has affected other people and caused them to go take the proper steps," Thayer said. "So, anything we can do to help raise awareness and show the importance of checking and keeping an eye on things like you should."
The benefit will be held at the Lakewood Legion at 174 Chautauqua Ave. on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. There will be a Chinese auction, spaghetti dinner, 50/50 drawing, giveaway and live music from Hi-Fidelity. Presale tickets will cost $8. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for children at the door. For presale tickets and information, call Renae Thayer at 450-7053 or Ryan Thayer at 485-6376.