“It’s incredibly important to continue educating women and men about cancer, all forms, and the American Cancer Society is that resource,” said the east Cobb resident of 30 years.
“I wondered the same question I am sure every woman who has heard the diagnosis breast cancer wonders. Why me? Just the whisper of cancer is scary,” she said.
Quillen’s mother died from lung cancer in August 2012 after undergoing every treatment available such as chemotherapy, radiation, brain surgery and blood transfusions.
“Her diagnosis was a death sentence, and she fought hard to live,” said Quillen, who has worked for 24 years in banking and is currently vice president for AloStar Bank of Commerce in Buckhead.
“I got my diagnosis in August 2013 and immediately went to no; no chemicals, no poison, no burning,” she said.
Quillen continued to ask, “Still, why me.” A quiet voice that she calls the “god presence” answered, “Why not you?”
Realizing the benefit of humor, Quillen told her friends, “If breast cancer will get 1 in 8 of us, then I’m taking one for the team. I got this — they don’t have to worry. They can choose another battle.”
But she remained scared. “The only relative in my family on both sides to get breast cancer was my maternal Aunt, stage 2, diagnosed in her 40s,” she said.
Quillen, who has two grown children, started playing in the Pink Ribbon Golf Classic after her aunt was diagnosed.
When she received her diagnosis, Quillen called her aunt who stayed by her side throughout her treatment.
“My aunt is my real hero. I have never been so vulnerable, to let go and let someone else be in charge. I had no basis for this, no repertoire from which to pull a solution and I trusted my aunt and my doctor fully,” she said.
“We don’t know what the universe holds in store for us, but I am eternally grateful that mine was caught so early through a diagnostic mammogram and here I stand, a little shaken, but being the voice to women to take care of themselves,” she said.
Quillen received the answer to her “why me” question.
“Because I will be a voice in the fight against breast cancer and encouraging women to take care of themselves and listen to not only their doctor but also the small still voice inside that guides each one of us,” she said
Quillen’s diagnosis and treatment was a life sentence.
“If sharing my story encourages women to take care of themselves and get their mammograms, then I’m grateful to be able to share,” she said.
“Come have fun. Life is for the living, and I want every day to be filled with gusto. Come laugh with us, come break bread with us, come play golf with us, come caddy with us. I have played in numerous tournaments and this one is the most fun and the most meaningful one to me. Come make a difference,” Quillen said.
Breakfast and registration start on tournament day at 8:30 a.m. The 19th hole party follows immediately after tournament. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.
To volunteer at the event, become a sponsor, or donate raffle prizes, contact staff partner Gracie Rice at (404) 949-6458 or email at Gracie.Rice@cancer.org.
For event details, to be a caddy, or to golf, visit www.pinkribbongolf.org.