"It was late, but not too late"

UPSer shares her breast cancer fight to help others
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In 2017, eight months after joining UPS, Hulya Pinarbasi helped her team prepare for the move to Eindhoven’s new, modern hub. After months of hard work, the first automated sorting facility in the Netherlands was ready, and Hulya was promoted to a team leader.

She had been living in Turkey the previous 23 years, and returning to her native country had been a major, and welcome, transition.

“Everything was going well,” she said. “Life was good.”

But soon after her promotion, Hulya discovered a lump in her breast. After a visit to the doctor, new realities began hitting hard and fast. Exams detected cancerous tissue and glands.

“It was late, but not too late. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was finally fully living my life and then I had to stop it.”

Despite a demanding job and the effects of chemotherapy, Hulya decided to not take any sick leave. She said that with her personal life turned upside down, work was the only place she felt normal.

It was in her twice-weekly exercise group for breast cancer patients where she met Paulette Kreté. Their immediate friendship would lead to a powerful collaboration.

Learning, then acting

In early 2019, Paulette was diagnosed with a variant of breast cancer undetectable by mammogram technology. Through the process she and her husband, Tom Sanders, learned that for women under 50, mammograms often fail to detect tumors.

An engineer, Tom began his own research into why imaging technology was ineffective in younger women, eventually creating a prototype in hopes of improving detection. His idea won a 25,000 EUR prize, which the couple put into additional research and development.

Amid loss, a foundation formed

Following two operations and a recovery, Hukya decided she wanted to help others battling cancer. It was her friend Paulette who asked if she would be willing to lend her name, skills and passion to a new foundation.

That foundation would eventually become YvYa Foundation – a combination of Hulya’s name and Yvonne, a friend from the same exercise class who had lost her fight to cancer.

The foundation aims to help people understand breast cancer can happen to anyone, and early detection can make a big difference in treatment success.

The YvYa Foundation is now raising 50,000 EUR for a prototype of Tom’s idea that will create 3D images extending the range of current detection technology. As of mid-March, the YvYa Foundation has raised more than 30,000 EUR.

Meanwhile, Hulya has regular treatment, tries to make healthy choices and expresses gratitude for her recovery.

“Having no control is scary, but acceptance brings peace,” she said. “I’m just living in the here and now and trying to enjoy every moment.”

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