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This Christmas couple fights cancer by giving back

December 09, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Chris and Selena Doyle owners of Mountainside Gardens in Boonsboro display their pink ribbon holiday wreaths. They are selling and donating proceeds to Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO, Md. — Behind Chris Doyle, a heater pumped warm air into his Boonsboro greenhouse as a storm chilled the region with cold rain.

A potpourri of pine, fir and cedar wafted from the collection of lush wreaths of freshly cut evergreens spread throughout the greenhouse.

Everywhere there was life.

On each wreath was a bow; not a traditional Christmas red, but a pink one the same color as the symbol of breast care awareness.

This year, both Chris and his wife, Selena, are battling the big "C." He is fighting renal cancer, while she has breast cancer.

"When you first find out you have cancer, you know, you are scared to death," Chris Doyle said. "Everybody, when they hear the cancer word, they think of death."

"Your life changes really," Selena Doyle said.

This Christmas, the couple is fighting the disease by giving back.

Now through Christmas, $5 from every fresh wreath or fresh tree sold at Chris' business, Mountainside Gardens & Florist in Boonsboro, will be donated to Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley, he said.

Before Selena was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, Chris said he was unaware that organizations like BCA-CV existed.

BCA-CV has since given Selena a wig, hats to wear, support and information on what to expect while she undergoes chemotherapy, she said.

This weekend she will have her fourth of six chemotherapy treatments, she said.

Even with a family history of breast cancer, Selena said she was shocked to learn that the inconclusive result on her mammogram was cancer.

At 44, she has diligently had a mammogram every year for the past eight to 10 years, she said.  

"The doctor came in and said, 'Uh, we have a problem,'" Selena said. "I just thought the mammogram gave me a hematoma, like it bruised me underneath there. I thought that's what it was."

After various tests and a biopsy, doctors confirmed that she had Stage 2-B breast cancer, she said.

Having lost two brothers to cancer and watched his father battle it as well, Chris, 49, said he was hoping Selena's "inconclusive" result was nothing.

But he had not considered that he, too, might have cancer.

On Monday, Sept. 12, the couple learned that Selena's biopsy was positive for breast cancer.

The next day, Chris said he awoke in a sweat, with nausea, numbness and shaking, brought on by anxiety over his wife's situation.

At the hospital, a computed tomography, or CT, scan of his heart and lungs revealed a mass on in left kidney, he said.

Further tests revealed the mass in his kidney was Stage 2 renal cell carcinoma, he said.

On Nov. 8, Chris had surgery to remove the mass. Fortunately, he said it was caught early enough that there a 2 percent or less chance that his cancer will return.

It had been less than a month since his surgery when Chris decided he wanted to donate some of his profits to a local cancer organization.

Impressed by the professionalism and the care Selena received at BCA-CV, Chris said he decided it should be the beneficiary.

To date this season, he has sold about 20 trees and 30 wreaths. He has not set a fundraising goal.

"This is the first year we've done it, we have no idea," he said of how much he anticipates his shop will raise for breast cancer.

Chris said he is already planning a similar fundraiser for the spring. On the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Mother's Day weekend, he said he plans to donate 10 percent of his gross sales that weekend to BCA-CV.

He hopes to host fundraisers for cancer each year, he said.

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