Coventry resident Nicole Bourget will be featured in the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation’s 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar. The calendar features twelve Rhode Island women who each received a breast cancer diagnosis before the age of 40—eleven survivors and Kate Kenworthy-Rodrigues who lost her life to breast cancer earlier this year.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pawtucket-based Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation recently hosted the 7th Annual Flames of Hope: A Celebration of Life, the largest breast cancer awareness event in the Northeast. The theme of this year’s event, “Breast cancer is not just your grandmother’s disease,” was designed to remind Rhode Islanders of the new, younger face of breast cancer, the third leading cause of death from cancer in the state. The Oct. 5 event held at the downtown Providence Marriott was highlighted by the calendar unveiling.
Nicole Bourget, who lives in Coventry, sees her appearance in the calendar as an opportunity to remind young Rhode Islanders to familiarize themselves with family history and perform regular breast self exams (BSEs).
“I was only 31,” said Bourget, now 41. “I was taking a shower and because of where the cancer was located, I was able to find it myself.”
Bourget, a mother of two, was unaware of any family history of breast cancer until after her diagnosis.
“When you’re diagnosed,” Bourget said, “the first thing they ask you is whether or not your mother or sister had breast cancer.”
Though neither Bourget’s mother or sister have ever been diagnosed, Bourget’s aunt, on her mother’s side, did have breast cancer. Bourget’s diagnosis has certainly caused her to worry about her daughter’s elevated susceptibility. While insurance companies, according to Bourget, are getting better at recognizing the breast cancer risks for younger women, the cost of a mammogram is still not covered for women without maternal family history until they reach the age of 40.
Bourget met members of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation team earlier this year at the Rhode Island Business Expo.
“Tonya Hurteau, Mrs. Rhode Island 2012, is a friend of mine and she knows how outspoken I am about these issues,” Bourget remembered. “She introduced me to the Foundation.”
Bourget sees participating in Foundation events like the “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar and the Illuminations of Life torch procession as a way to give back, to “pay it forward,” and help other young women who may facing similar challenges. Though she’s been cancer free for nearly eight years, Bourget thinks it’s beneficial for her to talk to others about the disease and think about it periodically.
“I let cancer have five minutes of my day,” said Bourget. “People say, ‘I don’t talk about it. I don’t think about it,’ and I say, ‘Shame on you. You fought so hard. You’re here. Give it five minutes.’”
The 2013 “Celebrate Hope, Celebrate Life” Calendar is sponsored by Gem Plumbing, South County Hospital, and RI Rehabilitation Center.