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Pink Fire Truck Named After Cancer Patient Mary Poillion

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a photo of Mary Poillion in a pink firetruck

The Firefighters Charity Alliance of Central Florida joined AdventHealth Waterman Foundation in naming the pink fire truck after cancer patient Mary Poillion aka The Llama Lady. Learn a little more about the first honoree of the pink firetruck.

Mary Poillion scheduled her annual mammogram on a Monday in June of 2014. Unexpectedly on Saturday night prior, she found a small lump. First thing on Monday, she contacted her doctor and had a routine screening mammogram switched to a diagnostic screening with ultrasound. Mary pushed to have the biopsy as soon as possible. Then came the results, “positive for cancer, and on my son’s birthday.”

The doctors believed she had an 85% chance of not needing chemo. They proceeded with a lumpectomy. Mary went into her surgeon’s office for a follow-up visit, and she added “I’ll never forget this, my surgeon walked in with tears in her eyes.” It was in the lymph nodes. Mary immediately requested to be sent to an Oncologist.

An appointment with Dr. Al-Hazzouri resulted in a diagnosis of Stage 2 hormone aggressive cancer. Worried, she contacted her oldest son, an anesthesiologist, who spoke to his doctor friends and agreed on the best treatment plan with Dr. Al. The treatment plan included two (2) aggressive chemo types. Mary says, “I have so much faith in Dr. Al and this hospital that I decided I’m going to fight this, I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to drive my kids crazy forever!” Her doctor assured her she had the right attitude, mindset is key.

“You don’t know how strong you are until you need to be strong,” says Mary. Mary’s best advice to anyone going through cancer would be first to listen and trust your doctor and second to understand what accumulative chemo means. She also shared how important it is to have a “breast buddy.” Mary’s buddy was Eileen, the cancer care navigator at AdventHealth Waterman Cancer Center. Eileen is available to assist through the process, appointments, and to answer questions. She told us that all of the staff was very supportive.

The best thing, Mary says is “I saved 45 minutes in the morning by not having to do my hair!”

Seven (7) years cancer-free, Mary shared, “I’m here to help people.” Owning a pet shop with birds in the ’70s, she started working in pet therapy. Then she met and adopted TJ Llama and trained him for pet therapy in 2008. The llamas' visit assisted living facilities and go from bed to bed to visit patients unable to move into common areas. When asked why she takes the llamas to so many special events and facilities around the community, Mary says, “If I can help one person, that’s why I do it.”

a pink firetruck

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