Alison was 42 when she first felt a lump in her breast. Five months later, she had a second lump. A biopsy revealed that Alison had invasive lobular cancer, a rare form of breast cancer that makes up 10 – 12% of all diagnoses. At the time, it was stage 1, grade 1. The doctors recommended surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation. However, when surgery revealed two small tumors and negative lymph nodes, Alison opted to forego further Western treatments in favor of alternative approaches. Within one year, she had a very aggressive recurrence in the skin lymphatics, lymph nodes and eventually her spine, ribs and pelvis.
Alison had not yet discovered BAYS and went through more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation alone. Near the end of her treatment, she was directed to BAYS by her acupuncturist. She found a warm, welcoming group of women dealing with similar issues facing young women, including altered body image, changing sexuality as well as the feeling of wanting to simply enjoy life regardless of the difficulties of a cancer diagnosis.
Alison participated in her first BAYS challenge in 2007, going to Yosemite and climbing Vernal Falls, while the stronger hikers conquered Half Dome. Shortly after, Alison revived Mets in the City (MITC), a sub-group of BAYS for Stage 4 women, originally started by BAYS co-founder Deb Mosley.
Alison wishes she had found BAYS sooner than she did. She is committed to working hard to ensure that BAYS is always there and that it is accessible, helpful, and informative to young women facing breast cancer in the Bay Area.