Liberty County Census Coordinator Krystal Hart has a lot to celebrate.
“My grandfather is a 30 plus year (breast cancer) survivor and my cousin Felicia Richardson was recently diagnosed but now in remission,” Hart said after spending last weekend with her grandpa at the 2020 Survivors Parade held Oct. 10 in Savannah.
In 1983 Greene noticed a lump in his breast. Since breast cancer is a rare occurrence in men Greene’s physician told him to not bother with it if it wasn’t bothering him.
“The lump eventually started growing in size and leaking fluid,” Hart said. “In 1986, he was walking around with his shirt off one day and his nephew saw it and told him it was cancer. He immediately came home and had my grandmother schedule an appointment.”
Hart said the family’s first reaction was fear.
“Thinking that cancer was a death sentence,” Hart said. “But he immediately began to pray and trust in God. My grandfather always tells us to turn to faith first and not have fear. He truly practiced what he preached because while everyone was crying and upset, he told them and the doctor that his trust is in the Lord.”
About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The most common kinds of breast cancer in men are the same kinds in women and the symptoms are similar as well.
Greene had surgery to remove the mass and stayed in the hospital for two weeks. He had chemotherapy treatments for six weeks always on a Friday. Greene said the chemo made him sick and he experienced loss of appetite, fatigue and vomiting.
Greene said it would take him all weekend to feel well enough to go back to work on Monday. He added he started to feel better by mid-week but come Friday it was back to chemo.
“I didn't learn about my grandfather being a breast cancer survivor until about 10 years ago,” Hart said. “My aunt was donating blood at a local blood drive I was promoting in Hinesville. She told me she did it in honor of my grandfather because he always donated blood but was unable to after being diagnosed with cancer. I began to ask more questions and found out that he had breast cancer right before I was born.”
Hart said her friend Charlene Caswell, died from breast cancer in 2015
“I was frustrated because I didn't know how to be of help to her and wondered what I could have done differently if I was educated,” Hart said. “I became involved with Susan G Komen Coastal Georgia because there wasn't a huge presence in Liberty County. I wanted to equip more people with knowledge, support, and access to resources. I started out learning about the program and eventually became a grant reviewer for the annual grant funds they award. From there, I began volunteering on more committees and took on additional roles.”
In 2019, Hart’s cousin, Felicia Richardson, was diagnosed with breast cancer and that is when Hart became a team captain.
“I see how the money raised here stays here,” she said. “I see how the events and funds save lives. I wanted her to tap into that and I wanted my grandfather to tell his story so more men will see that breast cancer can impact them too. For him to survive in 1987 despite the lack of treatment and technology is a miracle.”
Hart said Richardson is currently in remission and her grandpa still relies on his faith.
“He still does not fear cancer will come back because he said he continues to focus on the goodness of the Lord,” Hart said. “And he takes care of his body with proper eating, lots of exercise and plenty of rest.”
Hart and her grandpa are preparing for the annual Susan G. Komen 5K run/walk this Saturday. Due to the COVID 19 this year the event will be done virtually.
There will be an opening ceremony live streamed by WTOC at 8 a.m. on Oct. 17. After that, teams and individuals will walk where they are.
Hart and her grandpa, Team Faith Walkers, will begin walking at 9 a.m. starting and ending at the Sunbury Boat Ramp. The walk is to honor Greene and Richardson as well as other survivors and those who lost their lives.
“This location is significant because my family is from Sunbury and the waterways are historically, spiritually, and financially symbolic to us,” Hart said.
Photos and donations will be collected via the Susan G. Komen app. Anyone wanting to join Team Faith Walkers can call or text 912-376-9342.
“We will wear masks and practices social distancing while walking,” Hart said. “Our honorees will also share their stories and we will recognize donations that have been made on behalf of breast cancer survivors and warriors.”
To donate to Team Faith Walkers visit: http://www.info-komen.org/site/TR?fr_id=8326&pg=team&team_id=445263