After losing mother, young woman explains importance of early detection in her own battle against breast cancer

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Jill Andrews shared her story of losing her mother to breast cancer, and dealing with her own cancer battle, during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Members of the Care to Walk Club at North Brunswick Township High School listen to a proclamation read during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Members of the Care to Walk Club at North Brunswick Township High School listen to a proclamation read during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Jill Andrews shared her story of losing her mother to breast cancer, and dealing with her own cancer battle, during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Members of the Care to Walk Club at North Brunswick Township High School listen to a proclamation read during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Members of the Care to Walk Club at North Brunswick Township High School listen to a proclamation read during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF

NORTH BRUNSWICK – North Brunswick Township Councilman Ralph Andrews lost his wife Marguerite to breast cancer in 1993.

During this past summer, his greatest fears were once again realized as their daughter, Jill, was diagnosed with breast cancer as well.

Jill Andrews spoke during the North Brunswick Township Council meeting on Oct. 7, mentioning how since the age of 13 when she lost her mother she knew how important her health was.

At 30 years old she learned of the RISE program (Risk assessment, Imaging, Surveillance and Education) at Memorial Sloan Kettering for people with an increased risk of breast cancer. She was genetically tested and screened with mammograms and MRI every six months.

However, shortly after her 40th birthday, cancer was detected on her routine MRI but not her mammogram.

“Due to my diligence, early screening and guidance, along with the support of my amazing medical team, I have just finished radiation last week and I have a 3 percent chance of it returning,” she said.

“I hope my story helps at least one person go get a mammogram and take care of their own health journey.”

Jill Andrews attended the meeting in support of Care to Walk, a breast and ovarian cancer awareness organization that had been held in North Brunswick for the past 20 years.

This year, the walk is on hiatus as the initiative transfers to the Care to Walk Club at North Brunswick Township High School.

The club will continue to raise money for donations to the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey through the sale of t-shirts and other products throughout October. Additionally, the club will host other small events for fundraising, such as a car wash and pancake breakfast, as they work to fully develop a new walk event for 2020.

“Without amazing programs, education, awareness and programs like these, like the Care to Walk Foundation, I may not have detected it until it was too late,” Jill Andrews said. “The program and community programs like Care to Walk raise awareness for local support groups to provide comfort in your own community.”

In 1998 the North Brunswick Care To Walk Committee was established. In 1999, Jill Von Bischoffshausen-Cenzano started to collect money in jars from fellow students at NBTHS for the Care to Walk/Run Committee, according to the proclamation read during the meeting. In 2000, Ashley Little continued for four years as president in which the membership rose and the Care-To-Walk/ Run Committee became an official club at NBTHS, according to a proclamation read during the meeting.

The NBTHS club has performed many fundraisers over the years, including car washes, bake sales, t-shirt sales and ribbon sales. This year they held a district-wide Raiders t-shirt fundraiser in addition to a district-wide jeans day.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, signified with the color teal, and October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, associated with the color pink; the students are selling pink and teal ribbons to the students and staff to display in their showcase along with an informative timeline of research and progress for breast and ovarian cancer.

This year’s 2019-20 club officers include President Fareedah Labib Ali, Vice President Valerie Chubis, Secretary Isham Khan and Treasurer Alishba Khalid.

“We’re taking this year to really re-envision a new opportunity for our community to come together with a really big focus on awareness,” said Dina Fleming, advisor of the Care to Walk Club.

To make a donation, mail a check to Care To Walk Club at NBTHS, 98 Raider Road, North Brunswick 08902.

For more updates, visit caretowalk.com.