LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Connie Thompson Titus has been battling breast cancer for a long time.
Inflammatory breast carcinoma is what she calls it, a rare strain that comprises just 2 percent of the breast cancer society.
“The survival rate is three to four years,” Titus said. “I’m still kicking around 15 years later.”
Having a strong faith and a good sense of humor are just two of the reasons why.
Titus will be appearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Harvest United Methodist Church’s as the guest speaker at Harvest Centre’s “Warming Hearts,” a program for people with cancer and their families.
Author of “Dancing At Daybreak,” the 57-year-old Fort Pierce resident mixes emotion and honesty with her humor and music to convey an entertaining message of her battle with cancer.
“This is something that impacts a lot of people,” said Sue Wainio-Oato, with the Harvest United Methodist Church, 14305 Covenant Way. “The way she faced a bad diagnosis with determination and humor. They were the main things that got her though this. She’s an inspiration.”
The Bellefontaine, Ohio, native hadn’t planned on becoming one.
But seven recurrences of breast cancer, most recently in 2010, changed that.
“It’s a way of life and I’ve learned a lot,” Titus said. “I’m a big symbol of hope. Doctors like to give you a date when you’re going to skedaddle, but that rubs me the wrong way. I tell it like it is and being able to express yourself is healing.
“I believe God works through doctors, but there are so many alternatives, interactive therapies and complementary agents that work, too.”
Like walks on the beach, drinking green tea, maybe a shot of blackberry brandy, she says.
“You’ve got to hold on to some kind of normalcy and be open to adventure.”
Faith is vitally important.
“For each individual it’s different,” Titus said. “People I don’t even know have prayed for me across the nation and it makes a big difference. You feel like you’ve got some armor on you.
“It gives you a sense of peace and tranquility that helps you heal.”
So does humor.
Titus learned that from her oncologist, who she swears should’ve been a standup comic.
“You’ve got to laugh, listen to music and dance,” she said. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but you’ve got to try. You cry, too, but once you’re done, put on your lipstick and go on with life.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix
IF YOU GO
What: Warming Hearts: A Program for Patients and Families Touched by Cancer.
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Harvest United Methodist Church, 14305 Covenant Way, Lakewood Ranch.
Information: Contact Carin Doddroe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-907-7333.