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World Cancer Day: A Tale of Survival

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  • Written By: Brittany Garcia
World Cancer Day: A Tale of Survival

Many years ago, a breast cancer diagnosis was likely a death sentence. Luckily, medicine has advanced to the point where it no longer has to be. That is the case for Marshall patient Angela Chance. Thanks to early detection and the advanced medical care she received at Marshall, she is cancer free today.

Angela’s Tale

Angela was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2017. “I felt a lump in my right breast as I was showering. Because I have an aunt that had breast cancer, I was aware of the need to do self-exams. I called the doctor and reported the lump – they got me in for an appointment for an exam and referral for a mammogram and ultrasound.”

Initially, the doctor didn’t think the lump was malignant, but did a biopsy just to be sure. As it turned out, Angela had invasive ductal carcinoma and would need chemotherapy, followed by radiation, to treat the cancer. A PET scan showed that the cancer was contained to her right breast and hadn’t spread. It was a small bit of good news in the midst of everything.

“On September 19, I started chemotherapy. The Marshall oncology nurses were not only professional but genuinely good people to me, my family and my friends. Amazing they were. I quickly found myself looking forward to my sessions because I knew they were saving my life and rooting for me. I had many visitors during my sessions, and they brought a party to the infusion center whenever we could. I felt it was important to not just be positive but to be happy.”

Angela’s oncologist monitored her progress regularly throughout the chemotherapy process and was pleased to report the tumor was shrinking. Two months after treatment, it was no longer detectable via ultrasound.

“I spent December through February in a ‘chemo brain’ fog. Even though the tumor wasn’t detectable any longer, there was still a possibility that there were cancer cells in my tissue so I continued the rest of the recommended chemo treatments. The fatigue that had been slowly increasing hit me full on – I took lots of naps. It was such a bizarre time.”

After five months of chemotherapy, side effects and a roller coaster of emotion, Angela took on the next step – a lumpectomy to remove the tissue where the tumor had been. Detailed testing of the tissue showed no cancer cells.

“Given all of my statistics it was determined that I would need to do radiation to cut my odds of reoccurrence down from a 40% change of reoccurrence to a 10% change of reoccurrence. It meant going every day for four weeks – but it was a commitment I was willing to make.”

“A big milestone just passed-- in August 2018, my mammogram and ultrasound had showed no lumps. My hair has started growing; I may even keep it short for a while.”

Angela’s advice: “be happy and be positive as much as you can. It’s easy to say, not always easy to do, but definitely worth trying always. This will sound super corny but my close friends/family know this is true – Even on my worst days this past year I still made a point of telling myself that I loved me and that I loved the people around me. The more you say it the more it’s true and that will help with whatever challenge we face. You have to love yourself to fight for yourself!”