Breast cancer survivor's costumes bring positivity, humor to treatment

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021
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When Ellen Fields was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, she started wearing costumes to her appointments to help lighten the mood.

LOWER MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- A breast cancer survivor is describing how she used her positive attitude and sense of humor to help lighten the mood during treatment.

It's a bit odd to see a person wearing a hamburger costume in Lower Manhattan, but after talking with Ellen Fields for just a few minutes, it makes perfect sense.

"Whether I'm upset about it or happy about it, it is what it is so it's how I dealt with it," Fields said.

In August of 2019, doctors told Fields she had breast cancer.

The then 45-year-old from Brooklyn started chemo in October of that year.

To lighten the mood, her niece Hailey suggested bringing her stuffed animal along -- a giant emotional support unicorn.

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"She said please take Sugar with you so other patients can feel better while getting medicine to help them get better," Fields said.

Well, sugar was a hit! Which got Fields thinking -- and along with her other nieces, came up with a plan.

It was next level. Each time Fields went to an appointment, she'd wear a different costume. Each would also come with a sign, a play on words for fighting and beating cancer.

"A couple patients started telling me their own situations. One lady was like, 'thank you so much,' she and her husband were there and were shell shocked," Fields said.

The costumes were front and center during her six months of chemo at New York Presbyterian, followed by six and a half weeks of radiation at a New Jersey hospital.

"I keep them, I love them, they make me happy, other people happy," Fields said.

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Ellen is now in remission. She tells Eyewitness News she's not trying to sugar coat things -- rather provide some levity in what can be a very dark situation.

"Even if they are terminal you can smile, it's not great, but there are moments in life that are great," she said.

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