Instead, Musum will be proudly dressed in pink as UCF promotes October being Breast Cancer Awareness month. The 38-year-old Musum is a breast cancer survivor and was told last September by doctors that her symptoms were in remission and she was “cured.” Now, Musom plans on telling anyone who will listen before, during and after UCF’s showdown against Marshall about the need for awareness when it comes to catching breast cancer early in the process.
“I meet so many women who say, `You had breast cancer? But you are so young.’ But I tell them that it can happen to anybody and just because you are young doesn’t mean that you are immune to it,” said Musum, who along with her husband, Wayne, have had UCF football season tickets for decades. “Everybody has to be aware and be checking for it. I love that October is the awareness month because it has people talking about it and thinking about it.
“Everything that I can do to get the word out there, I’m going to do it,” Musum continued. “Whether it’s me wearing a pink shirt that says I’m a survivor and people stopping me and talking about it. And sporting events are such a great way to get the word out because of the population there, and at UCF there are primarily young people there. It’s making the student body more aware of the fact that they need to be more in check with their bodies.”
For only $20, fans can get a ticket to Saturday’s UCF-Marshall game at Bright House Networks Stadium and a voucher for an exclusive Pink “PATCH” which can be redeemed at the UCF marketing kiosk between gates 2-5. A portion of the proceeds will go back to the Central Florida Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
The “UKNIGHT in PINK” campaign is bringing together Florida Hospital and it’s Pink Army, the Central Florida Affiliate of Susan G. Komen, UCF Athletics and the entire community in support of breast cancer awareness as well as creating greater awareness about the life-saving benefits of annual mammograms and early detection.
Just 31 years old at the time, Musum was stunned in January of 2005 to learn that she had breast cancer. Further blood testing revealed that she carried the BRCA1 gene, a mutating gene that greatly enhances the likelihood that a woman will eventually contract breast and ovarian cancer before the age of 50. Musum was shocked to learn that she carried the hereditary gene because her grandmother (in her 80s) and mother (in her 60s) neither had cancer nor the hereditary BRCA1 gene. Studies have shown, however, that the gene can be passed down by fathers through generations of children.
Musum ultimately underwent a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy. Also, she preemptively had her ovaries surgically removed because of the possibilities of contracting more cancer.
“I couldn’t have gotten through it without my family and the support that they gave me,” said Musum, whose daughter Sydni (now 10) and son Ryan (now eight) were three and one years old at the time. “I just had a positive attitude from the time I was diagnosed and felt like as long as I’m alive this was what I was going to have to do. I felt like it was never a death sentence. The doctors told me that they caught it early and because I was so young they went after it aggressively with chemotherapy. They let me know that I was going to have a rough year ahead of me, but that I was going to be OK.”
Musum is so eager to spread her story now because catching her cancer early in the process helped to save her life. Research has shown when breast cancer is detected in the initial stages patients are given a 95 percent survival rate. Musum’s sister, Michelle, was diagnosed with breast cancer a year after her and is also in remission now after catching the cancer early in the process.
Because of the heredity BRCA1 gene that both Melanie and Michelle carried, there was an 87 percent chance that they would have breast cancer before the age of 50 and a 44 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer by 50. That made the early detection even more important.
“Early detection is so imperative,” Musum said. “I’ve done as much as I can to help get the word out. I’ve done guest speaking for American Cancer Society and I’ve been a part of the Walk-For-A-Cure for Susan G. Komen. I’ve done what I could to help raise awareness about early detection.”
That ultimately helped Musum save her life. She recently celebrated her seven-year anniversary of being cancer-free, something she thinks about every time she takes kids Sydni and Ryan to school or to sporting events at UCF. (They are long-time season-ticket holders and tailgating regulars outside of Bright House Networks Stadium).
The emotion from the day she was told she was cancer free still sits close to the surface and pours out when she tells others about her scary experience with breast cancer.
“That feeling was just unbelievable and I’m just grateful and thankful to be alive,” Musum said. “Florida Hospital was just so good to me. Grateful is just the word to describe it for me because I know there are women out there who lost their battle and won’t get to see the children grow up. The fall after I was diagnosed I got to see my daughter to go kindergarten and that was very emotional for me. The fact that I’m able to do that was so important and meaningful to me. I’m grateful now that I’m having these moments with my children and getting to spend every day with them.”