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Chick of the Month

Francoise G. Cashman

Thirty-Three Years Later - She Never Looked Back!

I have seen my mother meet a scared woman who just had a mastectomy, grab her hand and twenty minutes later they are smiling and laughing. Fran has a way of making a cancer Francoise G. Cashmando what ever you want. She believes having cancer makes you an automatic member of her exclusive club of which she is the proud spokesperson. Fran always speaks from her heart.

In 1969, Fran's younger sister was diagnosis with breast cancer. This upsetting news caused my mother to check her own breasts where she found a hard lump the size of a lima bean. Three days later she had a modified radical mastectomy removing her left breast and all her lymph nodes. She did not require radiation or chemotherapy as she had found her cancer before it spread to the lymph nodes. We believe this timely diagnosis resulted directly from her breast self-examination which saved our mother's life.

Back in those days diagnosis was a difficult process. First women had to go through a full surgery for just the biopsy. Then while the women where in recovery, they would get their pathology results. If it was cancer, then a few hours later, women went back into surgery for a mastectomy. When told about her cancer, Fran informed her doctor, "I need to live until my son turns 18." Richard is the youngest of us and was only in fourth grade at the time. For my mother a single mother of three, there was simply no other possible outcome.

We can honestly say; she never looked back. She wears anything she wants. She actually has a boob and a bra for every occasion. She will gladly show them to anyone who is curious. Thirty years ago reconstruction surgery was not an option. When reconstruction did become available, my mother was so comfortable with her body; she simply could not have been bothered.

Whenever she meets a women going through breast cancer treatment she always teaches them to crawl their fingers up the wall and stretch out their arm muscles. This exercise is very important for regaining a full range of mobility. Swinging her arms was of utmost concern to "Fran the Golfer" since nothing was going to stop her from playing her favorite sport. She actually shot a Hole-In-One, post mastectomy!

Fran accomplished two entire careers after her cancer treatment. During the 70's and 80's, she designed women's sportswear for a Los Angeles manufacturer, Amy Lynn of California. Amy Lynn shipped thousands and thousands of dozens of my mother's blouses to JC Penny, Mervyns, and many others retail outlets across the country. I would not be surprised if these indestructible polyester wonders are still hanging in women's closets today.

After designing for 20 years, Fran started teaching Fashion Apparel and Design at West Valley Occupational Center, in Los Angeles. She Fran Curises South Americais uniquely skilled in commercial pattern making, a form of apparel engineering which she can draft by hand. She has many graduate students who work through out the fashion and television industry. Often when visiting my mother, the phone rings and it is one of her students inviting Mrs. Cashman to lunch or checking in to update her on their latest career news.

At age 79, Fran remains 100% cancer free. She is finally "mostly" retired and travels the globe with her pals. Recently she returned from a tour of the British Isles with our uncle where they hopped from country to country meeting friends and family. This weekend she is at a wedding in Mammoth, California. She and her pals thought they would make a five day road trip out of it, Fran is doing the driving. I am includingFran in Tierra del Fuego recent pictures of Fran from her three week South American Cruise where she sailed to Tierra del Fuego and walked with the Penguins! 

Many of the women from both my mother and father's side of family have been diagnosed with cancer. So far my sister, my cousins and I are all cancer free. We are very serious about wellness care. We get annual check ups, including a mammography as well as any other tests that are indicated. My sister, my cousin, and I have had multiple needle biopsies; so far results have been negative. I did have a stereo tactic biopsy at 39 for a spot on my left breast that turned out to be only a liquid filled cyst that popped from the needle puncture. The scar from the biopsy has long since disappeared. The procedure was minimal and the peace of mind was well worth it.

From Fran comes the inspiration to live your life to the fullest, be brave, be kind, teach others your skills and share your personal experiences. She is quite the little Toughie Chick our mom. We are very lucky to have her! 

Fran's family





Past Chick 
of the Months:

ROBIN FARBER Little Chicks Give 'Locks of Love'

MARLENE MARKS Marlene's Story


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