As a registered nurse and member of a family with a long line of breast cancer diagnoses, Lisa Pugsley was no stranger to breast cancer. Pugsley had long shown her support via 5K’s and other fundraisers, even growing out and donating her hair to an organization that makes wigs for patients. She had often considered participating in a breast cancer endurance walk, but could never seem to find the time. Then, in January of 2013, the phone call came after a mammogram at Gwinnett Medical Center. The nurse was now the patient- Pugsley was diagnosed with breast cancer.
At only 40 years old and the mother of young son, the diagnosis threw Pugsley for a loop. Because of her extensive family history of cancer, she underwent genetic testing to help doctors better understand the best plan of treatment for Pugsley. Despite negative results on her genetic tests, her doctors were fairly sure there had to be a genetic component to her cancer. Because of that likelihood, they recommended an aggressive treatment plan including a bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, and a total hysterectomy.
In an effort to bring something positive to her ordeal, shortly after recovering from all of her surgeries, Pugsley decided that the time was right to finally sign up for the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. The 2-Day Walk actually allowed her to reconnect with Lisa Tucker, her best friend from nursing school, who flew from Oregon to walk alongside Pugsley. “I was so touched that she would come all the way across the country to spend two days doing something that was so important to me.”
The Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer, which exclusively benefits breast health and breast cancer programs in Georgia, has raised over $12 million since 2003. Gwinnett Hospital System (where Pugsley was diagnosed and received treatment) is actually a recipient of one of It’s The Journey’s 2016 grants, receiving over $39,900 for their Digital Mobile Mammography program. Since 2013, Gwinnett Hospital System has received over $140,000 in grants from It’s The Journey. “The fact that the Atlanta 2-Day Walk supports Gwinnett Medical Center’s Care-A-Van is really meaningful to me,” said Pugsley.
Other programs funded by the 2-Day Walk include genetic testing and counseling for people like Pugsley with strong family histories of cancer. Because of her unique history, Pugsley continues to be followed by a genetics counselor, and will have testing done as new genes are identified.
Inspired by the energy and fun of the 2-Day Walk weekend, and by all the meaningful programs that the walk supports, Pugsley is signed up for her 3rd Atlanta 2-Day Walk this October 15-16. “The Atlanta 2 Day Walk is such an amazing event and does so much to provide education, screening, and breast cancer treatment for those here in Georgia.”