Breast cancer took their hair and their breasts. But it didn’t take them. Or their positive spirits.
As soon as Janet Hattaway heard her doctor say the dreaded word, “cancer,” everything else in the room went quiet.
“I was numb, in disbelief, terrified and to be honest, uneducated on the subject of breast cancer,” she said. “I became a survivor that day and was determined to fight this battle. I did win, but only by the grace of God and exceptional health care.”
At age 45, the certified Pharmacy Technician at LifeCare Hospitals of Shreveport – North Campus, was diagnosed with stage 2 infiltrating mammary carcinoma (DCIS) HER2 positive breast cancer detected on a routine screening mammogram. The cancer was so deep in her breast tissue that a lump was never felt.
“Had it not been for me getting a mammogram I would not have known that I had cancer,” she explained. “Early detection saved my life because the type of breast cancer I had is very common but it is also very aggressive. I cannot stress how important it is to get your mammogram, and also do monthly self-exams and just be more self-aware.”
Soon after her diagnosis, Janet had a mastectomy followed by 18 rounds of chemotherapy She received treatment every 21 days , until in May 2013, almost two years after her initial diagnosis, a PET scan revealed she was cancer-free.
“I feel very blessed to be a cancer survivor because many of the women that I came to know during my treatments lost the battle,” the grandmother of two said.
Janet says she drew strength during her breast cancer journey from her family and friends, including her colleagues at work.
“I do have to say that the support I received from my work family at LifeCare was extraordinary,” she said. “I continued to work only taking time off for my treatments and surgeries. The support and love from my family and friends is what kept me going strong, but I need to stress how important it is to have that one person, that one caregiver, who will stick with you through it all.”
Despite all that she endured, Janet, who has worked at LifeCare for more than 20 years, is a fighter through and through.
“The cancer is gone, my hair is back and yes, I have scars, but they tell the story of when cancer tried to break me but failed,” she said.
When Tina Spencer found a lump in her breast during a routine self-exam, she instantly had a lump in her throat.
“I was so scared,” she said.
Tina, who has a family history of breast cancer, knew almost immediately what it meant. At age 46, she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.
She underwent 36 rounds of radiation with no chemotherapy. A Supply Chain Tech at Complex Care Hospital at Ridgelake, Tina is happy to report after three and a half years, she has remained cancer-free.
“It is so very important to do your self-exams every month and your mammogram every year,” she said. “That way if for any reason you may end up with breast cancer, you would have a better chance of being a survivor.”
She credits her survival to keeping her mind and soul healthy during her journey and urges others who may face a breast cancer diagnosis to do the same.
“Ladies, life is so very short,” she said. “Live life to the fullest. Stay positive and love yourself.”
Know the Facts:
- One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
- Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
- Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.
- On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
- Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today.
- Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.
- Breast self-exams can be performed in the shower, in front of the mirror or lying down. For tips on the best way to perform a breast self-exam, click here.
*Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation