Cancer doesn’t stop during a pandemic. Mine certainly didn’t.
It was May 2020; COVID-19 was raging, and lockdowns were announced. We all thought, hoped and prayed the pandemic would go away quickly. So, when I found a lump in my breast, I wasn’t sure what to do. A week later, I was at urgent care for an unrelated matter and asked about the lump. After an examination, the doctor ordered a mammogram. Keeping my primary doctor and dearest friends informed, I waited 10 days for the results. On May 12, my friends gathered outside my doctor’s office as the diagnosis was given: stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
After the diagnosis, it was a whirlwind of appointments, labs, scans and biopsies – not to mention phone calls to tell family and closest friends. At the time, my daughter was wrapping up her junior year at Etowah High School, and my son had just graduated from boot camp, and was in Arizona, training to be a U.S. Army drone pilot.
After taking in everything thrown at me, I scheduled my first chemotherapy appointment May 22. I had no time to think about anything and followed my oncologist’s plan. Fortunately, shortly after beginning chemotherapy, I was introduced to an angel who was on her second cancer journey. This person encouraged me to get a second opinion. After my first round of chemo, it became apparent this was needed.
Soon after, I visited Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Atlanta. Once I arrived, I felt peace come over me. Even during the pandemic, I was able to meet every member of my care team, including my oncologist, radiation oncologist, chiropractor, naturopathic provider, nutritionist, scheduling team, pastor and behavioral health team. We had genuine conversations, and I felt heard for the first time. I also was encouraged to learn that I was allowed to have one person (caregiver) with me during my visit and future treatments.
I completed my chemotherapy, and every three weeks I have an infusion of estrogen-blocking medications. I am doing well.
I am honored and humbled to present my story to help others, and thank Jesus for walking me through this journey with joy and peace. I am so appreciative of my family and friends who have stood by my side.
I encourage everyone to keep their regularly scheduled checkups and to understand when to get screenings or genetic testing. It is also incredibly important to speak to your doctors about potential risks, symptoms and treatment options for cancer. If you find yourself on this journey, do not hesitate to get a second opinion; I am so thankful that I did.
Sending love, hugs and blessings to each of you,
- Northside Hospital’s Cancer Institute offers mammograms to uninsured women who meet specific eligibility requirements. To learn more about receiving breast cancer screening services, call 404-531-4444. Services are available at select Northside locations, as well as aboard Northside’s ScreenAtlanta mobile-mammography unit.
• Must live in Georgia.
• Must be uninsured.
• Must be 40+ to receive a screening mammogram
(or younger if medically indicated by a physician).
• Must meet income requirements.
• Must have a written order from your physician.
- Cherokee County Health Department provides resources to help residents, who meet eligibility requirements, schedule annual mammograms. For more information, call 770-928-0133.
- The Komen Breast Care Helpline, 1-877-465-6636, can help you find low-cost breast cancer screenings in your area.
- The Center for Disease Control’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women. To find out if you qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram, call 404-657-6370.
- WellStar Atlanta Medical Center Services provides mammograms to Georgia women. To obtain more details on eligibility, call WellStar Atlanta Medical Center Services at 404-265-4000.
– Mammography and Breast Imaging Resources