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Breast Cancer – A Family Story

By Mary Kay Davidson

Thank God, I have never had cancer, but my mother and sister were both diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am writing this article about the importance of being a positive support person to someone with cancer.  

My two sisters and I helped our mother with her experience of breast surgery and all she went through. This article, however, focuses on my sister, JoEtta, and her story with breast cancer.  

Almost five years ago, JoEtta found out that she had cancer in one of her breasts.  This was a surprise because she had been having her yearly mammograms for many years.  Surgery was scheduled very quickly because it was an aggressive tumor.  

This is a very emotional time for the patient.  

We did a lot of praying that God would be with us all as we went through this dramatic experience.  Since JoEtta lived alone, it was decided she would come home from the hospital with us to Ava.  

One of the biggest things to deal with is the unknown.  You don’t know what to expect.  

We took care of the drains where you have to measure and record all amounts daily.  We learned to do this and other tasks quite well.  

My husband and I cooked healthy meals and tried to offer a variety of food that would be appetizing to our patient.  We kept the mood in our home filled with as much laughter and positive thinking as we could.  

There was also continual prayer that JoEtta would be healed. 

Next, my sister began treatments.  She started with chemo.  

This lasted 16 weeks with us going every other week.  We did our best to make this a fun time.  We would take sandwiches with us to the treatments, or take cookies to share with other patients and their families.  

All of the staff at the treatment center were so nice and helpful.  We appreciated the attention and good care we received there.  

Again, we didn’t know what to expect.  

After the first treatment, JoEtta felt nauseous.  Even the smell of making coffee was difficult for her.

We were glad JoEtta was with us when she started losing hair.  That was a very emotional time.  We knew it would happen, but it was still a shock.  Again, we were supportive and encouraged her to stay positive.  We knew she could make it through this unwanted experience by taking one step at a time.  First, we went shopping for cute hats, and then went to choose a wig for her.  

JoEtta went through radiation and reconstruction with lots and lots of doctor appointments.  She stayed positive and hopeful through most of this challenging time. 

Her hair grew back and her most recent tests show she is cancer free.  

I admire how she made it through this challenging time of her life.  

She says that being with my husband and me made things go better.  I felt that we did all we could with prayers, laughter, good food, and companionship.  

It was the least we could do for someone we love.