By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – For those who live in or pass through Westborough, the large flower ribbon on the front lawn of the Forbes Building is not only a reminder that October is breast cancer awareness month, but it is a symbol of hope. For the countless women (and men) who are battling this disease and for those who are survivors, the pink ribbon represents awareness, support and a lifeline to a cure.
While the pink ribbon is the icon for breast cancer in general, the ribbon gracing the lawn of the Forbes Building has a story behind it. It is the tale of one woman's journey with breast cancer and a son's desire to do something tangible to show his support.
In the spring of 2009, after receiving a clear mammogram just four months earlier, lifelong Westborough resident Cecilia Temple discovered a “fullness” under her left armpit. After undergoing testing, it was discovered that Cecilia had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, an aggressive tumor that grew rapidly. The tumor was located high on the chest wall making it undetectable on the earlier mammogram. It had metastasized to her lymph nodes, which caused the swelling and made it stand out during a self exam.
Doctors at UMass Medical decided that Cecilia would need to start chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor and then undergo surgery to remove it. She would then have radiation. At the end of treatment, Temple had undergone six cycles of chemotherapy, one year of herceptin and 25 rounds of radiation.
Throughout Cecilia's treatments her husband, Bart, and their sons, Bart and Paul, were by her side – literally and figuratively. Just one month after her diagnosis Cecilia learned that Bart and his wife, Lauren, were expecting a baby. This, she said, was her “guiding force and her ray of hope.”
Today Cecilia is the proud grandmother of a beautiful 22-month-old granddaughter, Evver.
While his mother battled cancer, Paul felt compelled to do something tangible to show his support. Because he knew that his mother loves flowers, he planned to create a garden somewhere in town to represent cancer awareness. Unfortunately, there was no area available. With the help of Earl Storey, operations manager of the Westborough Department of Public Works, the idea of the portable ribbon holder was born.
Storey built the holder with the help of local carpenter Dennis Johnson. Garden Club member Beverly Linnane picked up the flowers and helped Storey plant them. Today the holder, overflowing with pink flowers, stands on the lawn in front of the Forbes Building as a beacon of hope.
“When I first saw the ribbon frame driving home,” Cecilia said, “I cried. Every time I see it I am filled with pride and I realize how much I am loved by my family and how I hope someday there will be a cure for this devastating disease.”
Cecilia and her family have participated in both the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and the UMass Medicine Cancer walks. Before his first Avon walk, Paul had a basket raffle fund-raiser at Mulligan's Tavern, which generously opened its facility for the occasion.
Hearing the diagnosis, enduring the treatments and trying to adjust to a new normal after breast cancer is daunting. The Bosom Buddies support group, facilitated by fellow Westborough resident and cancer survivor Donna Morgan has become a second family to Cecilia. The group meets on the last Thursday of the month at Kirkside on Church Street.
“Bosom Buddies is a casual group of survivors whose main goal is to just be there and listen. Sometimes we talk about our diagnosis and what works for us, and sometimes we just talk about what's going on in our lives with our children. We try not to dwell on cancer talk, but if there is a new member (always unfortunately), we will let her talk and vent and ask us whatever she needs,” Cecilia said.
Despite the pain and suffering that go along with a breast cancer diagnosis, Cecilia said that there is a silver lining. Cancer has knit her family closer together and made her more compassionate toward others. She has a deeper faith, a new appreciation for life and wakes each morning knowing that she is stronger emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Cancer, she said, has made her stop and smell the roses.