The Toni Keen Memorial Fund
The Toni Keen Memorial Fund
The Toni Keen Memorial Fund
Anna's Breast Friends
Toni and I met at Dr. Sumeet Chandra's oncology office in 2008. We went through chemo together, we ran together, we volunteered together, and we laughed and cried together.

Now I hope to provide inspiration and support for other Breast Cancer patients and Survivors - because we are in this together!
As I pulled my car onto Melbourne Ave. and got ready to pull into Front Street Park, I saw her car pull onto Strawbridge Ave. at the exact same time. It was 5:58 a.m. and it was time for our morning walk. We have met at this same spot at least 3 times a week since November 2010, only today would be different. I had started chemo treatments again for the 4th time since my breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, and she is waiting to find out if the spot on her lung that they found on her latest pet scan is metastatic breast cancer.

We met at Dr. Sumeet Chandra's oncology office in 2008. I was a 48 year old, triple negative, stage 4 metastatic cancer patient with mets to hips, spine, femurs, skull and liver, with spinal stenosis, trying to figure out how to walk again with the use of a walker. 
The Bridge
  by Toni Keen
  12 August, 2011
Published in Space Coast Living, October 2010
She was 45, a very pretty woman with a beautiful smile and bright eyes. I knew we would become friends. I also knew that when I asked her if she was triple negative, her answer would be "yes". We took all of our chemo together over the next few months. We ordered big, juicy hamburgers from Applebee's and had my husband pick them up and bring them to us for lunch. But, mostly we talked, shared and listened to each other and bonded over the most horrific thing that had ever happened to us.   

Her treatments came to an end, and I lost track of her. I continued my treatments over the next year and a half, and was able to walk again through intense physical therapy. Our husbands ran into each other and we found each other again. We quickly caught up and picked up where we had left off. 
They were starting a patient/volunteer program in Drs. Chandra & DuHaime's office and we wanted to be a part of that. We started volunteering in the chemo room, visiting with other cancer patients and their families. We thought at first that it might be too emotional to revisit the place that held such painful memories, but it was a natural fit. Soon, it became clear to us, that the patients in the office would benefit from a support group. So, we started Chemo Buddies. We call it that, because that's what we were. We were the original "Chemo Buddies", but we figured it would work on a bigger scale just as well. We have meetings once a month and are working with the staff to set up a personalized support system. 
We understand and acknowledge that treating "triple negative" breast cancer presents a whole new set of issues. But we just tend to go with the flow, follow our doctors recommendations and pray a lot. For ourselves, our families and each other. My cancer would come back 2 times before I got my first clean pet scan in April of 2010. Dr. Chandra thought that maybe hormone blockers would work on my triple negative cancer even though they weren't supposed to, so we tried it. It worked for 15 months. I was scanned every 3 months, and everything was looking good until July 2011. The pet scan showed a small spot on my liver that was active enough that I would need to start chemotherapy again right away. Anna had her pet scan the same day I had mine, and at my persistence she called in from vacation to get the results. Dr. Chandra had to tell her about the spot on her lung. It was not a good week for him either.

When she got back from vacation, we had a little bit of a pity party, then it was time to get back to business. The business of doing our part to make this cancer battle a little bit easier, and to keep our bodies healthy. But most of all, we talked, shared, listened and cheered each other on. And we got back to walking. Over the Melbourne Causeway and back. 2.6 miles. If you saw us you wouldn't know that we are cancer patients and survivors. Unless maybe you saw us one particular morning running a bit on the way down, flapping our arms and screaming "We're Alive...We're Alive". That was then, this is now. Today we walked and talked. I had my second chemo just 2 days ago, and I was a little more tired than usual. She said "We'll rest before we go back over", and we did. Tomorrow we'll be there again. Look for us....you'll see us there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It's what we do, and while we walk we solve all of our problems, big and small. There's not much a nice long walk over the river at sunrise can't fix.

And we got back to walking. Over the Melbourne Causeway and back. 2.6 miles. If you saw us you wouldn't know that we are cancer patients and survivors. Unless maybe you saw us one particular morning running a bit on the way down, flapping our arms and screaming "We're Alive...We're Alive". That was then, this is now. Today we walked and talked. I had my second chemo just 2 days ago, and I was a little more tired than usual. She said "We'll rest before we go back over", and we did. Tomorrow we'll be there again. Look for us....you'll see us there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 
It's what we do, and while we walk we solve all of our problems, big and small. There's not much a nice long walk over the river at sunrise can't fix.

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The Toni Keen Memorial Fund
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