Woman turns breast cancer diagnosis into platform to help others

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Life is never the same after a breast cancer diagnosis and the impacts are as different as the women themselves. (WPVI)

Life is never the same after a breast cancer diagnosis and the impacts are as different as the women themselves.

One young woman has turned hers into a platform to help others beat the odds of breast cancer.

After 20 years, Ellen Bartuska still loves every day she spends with the animals at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Hippos Cindy and Unna are her favorites.

"They know me. They could pick me out of a group of 100 people," she said.

After turning 40, Ellen went for her first mammogram.

It should have been routine, but doctors found a worrisome spot and concerns escalated after a second screening.

"They looked at the films and said you need to contact a breast surgeon," she said.

Genetic tests revealed she had a mutation raising her future risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

So the former college basketball player went on the attack with aggressive surgery. Luckily, she didn't need radiation or chemotherapy.

"To be so fortunate to not have to go through what I've seen other people go through," she said tearfully.

This sent Ellen on a mission to mobilize other women to go for early and regular screening.

"I thought this never could be cancer, I'm so healthy. I go running during lunch time. I run 3, 4 miles during my lunch hour. This can't be me. And it was," she said.

Ellen is also a passionate fundraiser. Together with two of her friends - one them a fellow survivor - she leads Team Braves. And they lead even more friends and co-workers, including some from the zoo, in Wilmington's Making Strides walk.

"Everybody's there for each other and because of each other - it's, it's awesome," said Ellen.
Related Topics:
healthbreast cancerbeating the oddshealthcheckphiladelphia zoo
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