Breast cancer survivors are as passionate in their survivorship as they are supporting others going through the treatment process and raising money for the cause. This month, we feature some local survivors who shared their journey with the “C” word.
Age: 60, Married to: Eric
Children: Eric and Eva; John and Labri and 2 ½ year old grandson Bauer; Quentin and Nadine
After contracting a rare form of malaria in 1993, Susan fell into a coma for six weeks in the ICU at Holmes Regional Medical Center. Dr. Dave Weldon and a team of doctors fought to save her life. “My outlook on life really began to change when I woke up from the coma and I was changed; the world was different,” Susan said. “I was already firm in my views on life and how very precious it is.” Then in 2006 Susan found a hard lump under her right arm and was given the diagnosis of Type 2A, 3R Negative. “I thank my family; all three of my sons were compassionate and encouraging. Eric, my husband, encouraged me to get checked out quickly. He along with the Lord were my strength.”
She remained active and even continued teaching an aerobics class. “These 80-plus senior guys and gals laughed at me when my wig was falling off while teaching, and encouraged me when I was so sick I could barely lift my arms.” As an employee of Health First, Susan is able to encourage others to keep working hard to achieve whatever goals they have for personal health.
AGE: 34 Married to: Mark
Children: Luke, 9; Lilly, 8; Nathan, 5
After being diagnosed at age 33 following the discovery of a lump in her breast, Katie focused on staying positive, family, friends and her faith throughout her treatment. She is now an advocate for healthy eating and living including natural and alternative treatments. “Every day is precious and every moment is special,” Katie said. “I find myself trying to be in each moment, not thinking about something else like what needs to be done.”
“I learned that you cannot go through something like this without the love and support of family and friends or without the Lord,” Katie said. “I can’t imagine facing a life threatening disease without my faith.”
“I have always been an overly optimistic person, cancer hasn’t changed that. But I have a renewed appreciation for each day.”
Age: 66, Married to: Juan
Children: Marta (Tiki) and Juan III; grandson Jackson
At 37 with no family history of breast cancer, even after finding a lump, Marta’s doctor didn’t order a mammogram. “By the grace of God I was working in the oncology department at Holmes and a mammogram was ordered, later a biopsy, which proved it was malignant.” Now as the marketing manager of Cancer Care Centers of Brevard, Marta works tirelessly to support those who have also been diagnosed. She also serves as the board secretary of the Cancer Care Centers’ Foundation and with a myriad of other organizations that help patients in many ways.
Married to: Wesley
At the age of 25 with stage III breast cancer, Heather turned to her faith as a source of comfort and inspiration. “At times I felt discouraged and uncomfortable but no matter what those days brought, I never lost hope in God’s truth and knew there was light at the end of those dark days.” Heather encourages those who are recently diagnosed to keep a journal during treatment. That way you can look back on the good and bad days and remember how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned.