Cancer survivors

Local breast cancer survivors pose for a photo: from left, Jackie Haff, LaRue Pryse, Tami Kowing, Carole Garrison, Etoile Benge, Arleta Porter, Ruthie Moore and Jane Moore. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you were to read only the first sentence of my story, this is what I would want you to take from my breast cancer journey: Early detection is the best protection! That being said, I will now tell you my story.

One in every eight women will get breast cancer during their lives, and every three minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer. On Oct. 19, 2010, at 3:21 p.m., I was the woman who would become one of those statistics. I was sitting at my desk at work when the phone call came. and I would hear the words, “Unfortunately, Mrs. Moore, your results came back positive.” I had prepared myself for this conversation, playing out both a positive and negative diagnosis, but I had not prepared myself for the instant numbness I was feeling. A numbness that I would learn to live with for months to come.

Back up my story a bit — I was always good at having an annual mammogram. Cancer of any kind was not prevalent in my family, with just one aunt having had breast cancer, but I always felt the need to get that much-dreaded annual squeeze. At the time of my diagnosis, I was actually feeling healthier than I had felt in years, starting a healthy diet and walking regimen at the beginning of that year. No aches, no pains, no suspicions of any kind to make me believe that the mammogram I was receiving on Sept. 30, 2010, would be any different than all of my others.

The day after my mammogram, I would receive a call from my doctor’s nurse telling me that my mammogram was abnormal and that I would need additional tests. I was in shock. I never expected this at all! I did take some comfort in knowing that, with only 15 months between my mammograms, I knew that no matter what was lingering in my breast, was caught early.

The next six months of my life looked like this: Doctor appointments galore — I am so thankful for such caring, knowledgeable medical people, both local and in Bend, who traveled my cancer journey with me. Also along for my cancer roller coaster ride were beautiful family members and friends who provided me with the greatest support team.

Dr. Thomas would explain to me that I would have to make a choice between a lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy. After much research, knowing that my cancer was caught so early, I chose to have a lumpectomy where I would then spend a very long week waiting for results, yet a week like no other — it was filled with so much earthly love and so much heavenly peace.

I would learn at that appointment the details of my cancer: stage one invasive breast cancer, with a tumor 8 centimeters in size with clear margins. I was also hormone receptor positive, and no cancer was found in my lymph nodes. In the cancer world, that is a very good diagnosis.

I would then find myself sitting in an oncologist waiting room, which was truly the most surreal of all the surreal moments I experienced. As I waited my turn, I hear a woman crying in the back, I watch as a patient is concerned for the health of others because he has a common cold, and I experience the most wonderful, beautiful bald lady as she jokes with everyone, bringing such a light into that small room.

I would determine that this was indeed not an ordinary doctor’s waiting room! I then spent 6 1/2 weeks traveling back and forth to Bend, feeling blessed to have a son to live with during the week and a job that worked around my treatments.

To sum up that six-month period, I would say that it was a time filled with so much faith, love and kindness that, while I never want to do all that again, I feel blessed beyond measure for that dance with cancer for those very reasons.

Fast forward 10 years — one in 39 women die of breast cancer! I love that I am not a part of that statistic and that I will be celebrating 10 years of survivorship this year. Surviving and thriving are great in my world!

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