2012 Alumna Andrea Adair

Andrea Adair

Andrea Adair was the first in her family and her friends to get breast cancer. “It was the kindness from complete strangers that motivated me to help others. It is difficult for your support group to understand what you are going through and it is equally hard to find ways that they can help. It really helps to have someone who has been there to talk to. I used to get up about 3 AM and get on a website called ‘Friends in Need’ and chat with survivors all over the world. I called it, ‘It’s 3AM and there’s too much noise. ‘I was 46 the first time and am just turning 55.’ It frightens me how so many more you younger women are getting it.”

Being a two-time breast cancer survivor has inspired Andrea to become an activist volunteer, raising awareness and funding for breast cancer research and helping other women learn to hope, be courageous and find strength. Andrea is especially passionate when it comes to educating women about their post­ mastectomy options. “After undergoing a lumpectomy and radiation therapy to treat my [LTSt cancer, I was overwhelmed,” she says. “Many times I thought of what I would do if 1ever had a recurrence. l had already decided I would get a mastectomy-without surgical reconstruction.” Before her mastectomy her surgeon asked what her goals were and she said “to catch more fish.” Some of her fondest memories are of being on the water with her dad. “I would give up a breast but cannot imagine giving up fishing or being on the water.” Her doctor gave her info for Westcoast Brace and Limb and Casting for Recovery which changed her life.

She went to Westcoast Brace & Limb in Tampa known for custom-made, non­ surgical prosthetics. As a result It of her complete confidence in their products, she did a 7-minute video about breast prosthesis and talked about how it has made a difference in her life. “I just wanted my life back and my fitness routine. In 2 months I was good to go. It’s important to me to help others realize that they can still have a life when this happens

She applied for the CfR-FL retreat and made it and was so excited she was picked. “I had one fly fishing class in a parking lot It was an incredible experience. The flow of the programs was a nice mix of fun and wellness. CfR is so awesome.” She was paired with Capt. Paul Cave with whom she caught her first fish of the day. It was a small bass, but very exciting.

Andrea is a consummate volunteer-­ everything from being a walk training leader for the Komen in Polk County for the 3 days, Survivor Chair for “Making Strides American Cancer Society” for several years, patient advocate for Westcoast Brace including online videos for them, and work ing with a group that does fundraising activities to support women and children of all cancers she took up body painting. The photo of Andrea with Cat Camp, a famous Tampa body painter, was on the cover of the Brandon insert for the Tampa Tribune also. This photo is for the Bodies of Courage book that is coming out this year. It is a fundraiser for “Faces of Courage”. Eighteen women with cancer got painted over two days. It’s to show how beautiful the body still is. The photos were released at the Tampa Sheraton on May 10 at an event called “Boobalishes.” This funds 3-day weekend camp retreats for women and children of al l cancers. They have 3 retreats a year.

Andrea has also done fundraising for all of them including Casting for Recovery by donating items for the online auction as well as the event at Knights Armament last year at which she also volunteered. “I did radio interviews for Clear Channel with Cory Dillon last year and was on 8 radio stations. T recently filmed a segment with me fishing with Linda Hurtado for ABC Action News about why fishing influenced my choice to use Westcoast Brace and Limb. I just d id my first 5k after not being able to run since my first cancer lumpectomy 8 years ago for the “I Will Inspire Foundation ” and “Building Homes for Heroes”. 1 use my Casting for Recovery photo in a lot of my articles, Westcoast uses it a lot also. T am a two time survivor, early stage both times.”

She works full time and l ives on an acre but manages quite well by staying organized to meet all of her commitments.

“So many people tried to tell me what to do,” she says. “What r want people to think about is, what is best for them, for their lifestyles and what they want to be able to do after treatment. Cancer makes you think about how much tim e you have left and what you want to do with it. Don’t dream it’s over, don ‘t you dare!”

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