Answers From Those Who’ve Survived

by Elysian Magazine

Best advice?

  • Go into treatment with a sense of gratitude.
  • Take care of yourself and surround yourself with people you love.
  • Don’t put off seeing a doctor if you feel a lump, and do not be afraid as there are so many options in the medical world today to help you.
  • Have your mammogram and don’t miss it.


Favorite wig? 

  • Jon Renau wigs. I found the human hair wigs to be very natural in appearance and more comfortable to wear.
  • I had a wig that looked very much like my own hair. I did not want my cancer to always be the center of conversation, and many folks did not even know. Life went on as normal as I could make it.
  • I did not need a wig.
  • Becky’s Place at Lexington Medical


Why reconstruction?

  • I had a lumpectomy and did not need to have reconstructive surgery.
  • My cancer was in the early stage so I just had a lumpectomy. My breasts are small so the impact was minimal. I loved my body the way it was and quite frankly did not want to mess with it more than necessary.
  • I did it for myself. I wanted to move forward like I never had breast cancer and having reconstruction made me feel like my old self.
  • I was diagnosed young, and I wanted to make sure I could be put back together again – in a way that looked good aesthetically.


Medication difficulties?

  • The chemo drugs Adriamycin and Cytoxan were particularly difficult for me because I was not able to take the follow-on white cell boosting drugs Neupogen and Neulasta due to liver toxicity complications.
  • The chemo was not fun at the time, but many improvements have been made since then and the impact is not so debilitating.
  • Tamoxifen made me feel like I was always having hot flashes; eventually I went off it after four years.
  • Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug.


Lowest point? 

  • My lowest point came in the winter of 2022 when I needed to be hospitalized for neutropenic fevers on two occasions and hospital beds were scarce due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Having no natural immunity and rampant COVID around me was very stressful.
  • I cannot say that I had much despair, and my faith gave me great strength and acceptance. My biggest concern was for my daughter, who was only 6 at the time. I wanted her to not despair and know that I would be OK.
  • I never felt despair. I always believed I would be fine and I was. Positive thoughts are important.
  • My lowest moment was when they put me in the PET scanner, before I started the treatment. That was hell. They put you in that long tube, and your whole life flashes before your eyes. I was seeing my children at these major milestones with me not there.


Source of hope?

    • God. I have had so many God-winks throughout this entire process that I could give an entire speech at a church about it. There is no doubt in my mind that God has stood by myself this entire time… It has increased my faith tremendously.
    • Outside of my faith in God, my greatest source of strength and hope came from the amazing care team I had at the Cleveland Clinic.
    • I have a strong faith and turned toward my Christian support group and my prayer life.  This was so important for me and remains so today!
    • Learning about all the advancements made in the treatment of breast cancer while I was being treated. 


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