Sheila Seiler, Executive Director Greater Evansville Affiliate
Sheila Seiler was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990. She was only 25 years old, and had recently given birth to her first son when she felt a lump in her breast. At age 25, it really didn't enter her mind that it could be breast cancer. Yet Sheila and her doctor monitored the lump carefully for a couple of months until one morning there was a significant change - the lump had become larger. After having a mammogram, ultrasound, and surgical biopsy, Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer. She immediately was scheduled for a modified radical mastectomy.
Her life had been turned upside down with the news but the difficulties were just beginning. The additional responsibility of a newborn baby, coupled with the restrictions placed on her by the surgeon and the temporary inability to use her left arm left Sheila tired and moody. Add the complications of radiation and chemotherapy and Sheila became exhausted and dehydrated and she was hospitalized several times throughout her treatment.
But Sheila persevered and after her treatment was completed she quickly put it out of her mind and got on with life with her family.
The Race for the Cure came to her area in September 1998, and at that time, Sheila wanted no part of anything that was connected with breast cancer, let alone a huge gathering of breast cancer survivors. She felt so overwhelmed by the diagnosis and the shock, pain, and fear that came with being diagnosed at age 25 with breast cancer.
However, the following year, Sheila went to the Komen Greater Evansville Race for the Cure out of curiousity. Sheila had always been painfully shy, yet she started the Race by herself. Moments into the survivor parade, Sheila was overwhelmed with uncontrollable tears, and she pulled her friend Judy from the sidelines with her to finish. Following the Race, Sheila called the local Race organizer Mary-Beth Owen and thanked her for bringing the Race to Evansville, and Sheila immediately signed up to become a part of the Teams Committee because the experience had impacted her so deeply.
Seven years ago, Sheila left her full time position that she dearly loved and accepted the part time position as administrative assistant with the Greater Evansville Affiliate. Sheila was giving up a job working with at-risk children, and giving up a job that had full health and retirement benefits.
Breast cancer has taught Sheila how strong she is. She overcame her shyness, went back to college, and made a personal proclamation that the message of being one's own health advocate and literally and figuratively taking your life into your own hands is what we each must do. Sheila regularly teaches Breast Self Awareness and speaks about the importance of breast health to high school students, women's groups, local business organizations, and even family reunions.
In November of 2006, Sheila Seiler was appointed the Executive Director for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Evansville Affiliate. "It is so important to me that I reach as many people as I can. Young or old, men or women, it doesn't matter. Everyone needs to understand the importance of literally taking your breast health into your own hands. If you don't know how to do a breast self-exam – I will teach you. If you can't remember to do it – I will send you a monthly email reminder. If you have questions or concerns – call me and I will help you. My mother once asked how could God do this to me (referring to my breast cancer). I say God has blessed me with an opportunity. What better way to reach people than to have lived through it yourself?"