Wanda, a 70-year-old breast cancer survivor, comes from a long line of fighters, of go-getters and of hard workers. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2013, she knew that she had to fight in the battle against cancer.
Wanda went to Sarah Cannon at TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, TN for a routine mammogram in the fall of 2012. The radiologist discovered an area in her left breast that was recommended for close follow-up. When she returned in three months to have the area checked again, the area had doubled in size.
She was quickly brought in for a biopsy to determine if the area was indeed cancer. “I was terrified. I’m afraid of needles. But that is where I met Brenda, my nurse navigator who specializes in breast health. She met with me that day and reassured me. She made me not be afraid,” Wanda said.
Wanda’s biopsy confirmed her suspicions; she did have early stage breast cancer. Wanda had ductal carcinoma which in simple terms, means the cancer was contained to her milk ducts. “The word cancer almost knocked me off my feet. My father had cancer four times and I remember the suffering he went through. He fought against his cancer for 14 years before he finally passed away. I knew I had to beat this,” she said.
Fortunately, her cancer was non-invasive and her physician, Dr. Michael Thomas, a surgeon at TriStar Summit Medical Center, recommended that Wanda undergo surgery to remove the cancer. Wanda’s relationship with Dr. Michael Thomas was special because she has two sons- Michael and Thomas- “I thought we were a good match,” Wanda said.
Immediately after the surgery, Dr. Thomas told Wanda that he was 99 percent sure that he removed all of the cancer; final pathology available the next day confirmed this. “Dr. Thomas called my house the next day and said ‘Guess what? NO MORE CANCER.’ They were the greatest words that could have been said.”
Wanda is now in remission and has been cancer free for nearly two years. She diligently returns to Sarah Cannon at TriStar Summit Medical Center every six months for her checkups and takes pills prescribed by her doctor each day to prevent the cancer from coming back.
“Life is different now that I am a survivor. I feel like I was awarded a new lease on life- I appreciate each day.”
Photographers: David Sosnow and Susan Adcock