SHARING HER STORY
AS A TWO TIME BREAST CANCER SURVIVORHundred’s of women packed into the main ballroom at LaCenter in Westlake Saturday morning to raise funds for Breast Cancer research and awareness. This annual event, “Horizon of Hope” is sponsored by Longaberger Baskets. Longaberger has had a long relationship with the American Cancer Society and has raised over 13 million dollars in 12 years. Every year the Chairperson chooses a Key Note Speaker, this year that honor went to a local woman who is a two time Breast Cancer Survivor.
Suzaane Leffew, Chairperson for the Horizon of Hope, said that she met Renee’ Laubenthal last year through a neighbor. “I met Renee’ through a good friend and after hearing her story and what she went through I knew that she would be an outstanding speaker for today’s event.” Renee’ Laubenthal is from Grafton and is married to Tom Laubenthal of Laubenthal Funeral Home. Renee’ works for Hospice of Western Reserve as the Director of Alternative Home Care.
Laubenthal was nervous going into today but when she took the stage she commanded the audience from the first word of her 20-minute speech to the last. During the emotional testimonial Laubenthal was able to sprinkle in some humorous moments. One instance she was discussing meeting with one of her Doctors accompanied by her Aunt (To save her embarrassment I will not divulge her name) and Mother. Laubenthal spoke how after the Doctor had left the room the three women discussed how good looking her Doctor was with her Aunt adding; “I’d do him”. Laubenthal had to wait a couple minutes to return to her speech as that line brought the house down. She returns to the speech telling her gripping story about how she discovered she had Breast Cancer. A phone call with her Doctor on a November morning is how she found out. “I am told over the phone at 8 in the morning that I have to go in and see the Doctor because I have Breast Cancer. My body and my mind feel numb, I could not breathe, I could not speak. All I could feel is numbness and the thought; I am going to die.” Laubenthal beat it, only to discover 5 years later that it had returned.
Laubenthal said it was important to her to “come out” today and tell her story, something that she had not really done before. “I am a private person so for me to stand in front of all these women and tell this story was a big deal. I believe it is very important though because I am a two time Breast Cancer Survivor and I am also an “under 40” Breast Cancer Survivor.” Laubenthal said that being under 40 years old is important for people to know because in those cases the Breast Cancers tend to be more aggressive and the survival rate is much lower.
Laubenthal said that if she can send just one message to women who find out that they have Breast Cancer it would be to be your own best advocate. Early on Laubenthal said she kicked a few people off of her “team”, meaning certain Doctors who she didn’t feel comfortable with. “Some Doctors will just try to take you through the normal process but you must be an advocate for yourself and you must feel comfortable and have confidence in the team that you select. If you are not comfortable with your Doctor then move on and find another one, you can do that.”
Another point that Laubenthal touched on was how she had such a strong support base from not only family but also many friends. Near the end of her speech she invited a number of family members, including her Aunt, and friends to stand so she could thank them for their continued support. She called them her “team”; “Without them I would not have had the will, the strength, the courage or the motivation to overcome my bouts with Breast Cancer. Gandhi said; “Some people say courage takes incredible difficult strength” I say it takes indomitable will.”