Kettering Health | Strive | Fall 2022

When her mother got sick, Connie put her own life on hold to take care of her. This meant skipping her annual mammogram appointment in September 2021. Connie noticed she felt fatigued during the winter but focused on her mother instead. Finally, the following March, she decided to schedule all her annual appointments before her birthday at the end of the month. Connie’s mammogram appointment began like any other. One more appointment to cross off her list, she thought. But her doctor noticed something abnormal. Connie’s fatigue wasn’t due to winter weather or taking care of her mother. She had a tumor in her left breast. “It was very shocking,” she says. “I didn’t even know what to think.” Connie returned for an ultrasound, followed by a biopsy. Instead of celebrating her 61st birthday, she awaited her diagnosis. The anticipated test results arrived: triple-negative ductal carcinoma, an aggressive form of breast cancer. “I remember sitting there thinking, ‘Wow—why me?’ And then thinking, ‘Why not me?’” Because of the fast-spreading nature of her cancer, Connie and her doctors scheduled treatment to begin on May 17. An encouraging community Before her first day of treatment, Connie and her daughter visited the Renew Boutique and Spa, located in the Kettering Health Cancer Center. Connie looked around the store, browsing the scarves and wigs she might soon wear, while her daughter spoke JOIN US The Courageous Beauty class is offered on the third Monday of each month for patients in active cancer treatment. This single-session class is free and includes a free personal cosmetic care kit. You do not have to be a Kettering Health patient to participate. To learn more about the class or to register, visit or call 1-844-802-9410. to the store manager. As they left, her daughter revealed she had signed up Connie for Courageous Beauty, a free class funded by the Kettering Health Foundation. The class aims to empower women by teaching them to embrace and care for their changing appearance throughout treatment. Connie, a former model in high school, says she loved discussing makeup and skin care in the class. It gave her a sense of control to take care of herself at a time when her body seemed to work against her. “Making sure that your skin is good and clean and moisturized is a lot,” she says, “especially when you don’t feel good.” The best part of the class, Connie says, wasn’t the skin care or makeup but talking with other women going through the same journey. “It let me know that I was not just a number or a patient,” she says, “but that I was a part of a big network of women who have walked the walk and can talk the talk.” Jaime Testa, manager of Renew Boutique and Spa, says it amazes her to see women who attend the class come together and support one another. “It’s been really neat to see the community that it builds within the women,” she says. “It’s not so much about the facilitator and what they bring to the table, but more of the camaraderie between the women that are sitting together.” Courage to face her future For Connie, meeting women in various stages of treatment helped her prepare for her own treatment. “There were some girls there who hadn’t lost their hair yet—I was one—and then there were some that had already begun to lose their hair,” she says. “To listen to their journeys was encouraging. Aside from the —Continued on page 14 Connie Miles typically spends March celebrating her birthday. March 2022, however, was anything but typical for her. 13