February 4th is designated as World Cancer Day. This day is set aside to raise awareness of cancer and to promote early detection, prevention, and treatment. Although this day is observed around the world, we can look in our own communities to many lives touched by cancer. Janee Scott of Williamson is one of those affected by cancer.
“I was 23 when my mom passed from breast cancer. I remember the pain she went through. My cousin Bill had to give her shots in the back as part of her treatment. She would cry from the pain so much he would be in tears for her during those shots,” remembers Janee.
In 1986, at the age of 46, Janee’s mom passed away after struggling with breast cancer for two years.
In April 2012, Janee was diagnosed with breast cancer.
After diagnosis, the treatment plan began. First, a double mastectomy. Second, 6-weeks after the surgery, chemotherapy began.
“I took 8 treatments, with treatment being every other week. There were times I didn’t get to take them on time because the treatments made me so sick. The first four treatments put me in the hospital three times. So, it took me longer to finish since I had to take breaks some weeks,” said Janee.
Six weeks after chemo ended, she then started 6-weeks of radiation as a daily treatment. Janee remembered not being as sick or tired as she was from the chemo, but she had burns from the radiation.
After surgery, chemo, radiation, medicines, sickness, hair loss, and all that comes with cancer treatments, Janee was declared cancer free in August 2018.
Seven years after her first cancer diagnosis, Janee was again diagnosed with cancer. This time metastatic breast cancer, meaning a recurrence of breast cancer, but not in the breast. She has been taking Xeloda, which she explains is a chemotherapy pill. In the beginning, it was drastically reducing the size of the tumors, but it has stopped working. For about 6 months, the tumors weren’t getting larger, but the size wasn’t decreasing. Over the past few weeks, the tests are showing the tumors are again increasing. Now, it’s time to start trying new treatments and adjusting meds.
Janee said, “With this second cancer diagnosis, I feel it could have been caught in an earlier stage, not after I already had 20 tumors, if I would’ve been having PET scans and other tests periodically. I asked about testing at around the 5 ½ year mark and was told that far out from the original diagnosis, these tests weren’t done. So, I wonder why we’re not doing these scans yearly? My cancer was at an advanced stage before it was caught the second time.”
The 2nd diagnosis came after she was having pain in her sternum. She went to the doctor for the pain and after a CAT scan the tumors were noticed. She did not have a tumor in the sternum, but that unrelated issue is what led to the cancer being discovered.
During cancer, we often see the physical impact the disease and medicines have on patients. It’s not always as easy to see the emotional impact it takes. Janee mentioned things as simple as getting tired of not being able to eat what she wants or when she wants. Having to time her eating to correspond with when she takes her medicine. The feeling of frustration and lack of control over her own life can be overwhelming she said.
Getting Through It
Getting through one diagnosis seems difficult enough for most of us. Receiving a second diagnosis, of an advanced stage cancer, seems nearly impossible. How does Janee cope?
“Work and family. If I didn’t have my job, I would be home staring at the walls, thinking of things I really shouldn’t be thinking about. These things provide a needed distraction. Work helps keep me going,” she said.
Cancer has been a part of Janee’s life from the time her mom was diagnosed up through her own cancer battles. She has learned a thing or two about dealing with this disease. After these, she has things she can share with others. The question to Janee was, “If someone reading this has recently been diagnosed with cancer, what would you tell him or her?”
Janee replied, “First thing you do is pray and ask God to help you through it. I have been through and I’m still going through some rough treatments. I wouldn’t be here if God wasn’t helping me. That is the first thing to do.”
She summed up her advice saying, “If someone is diagnosed with cancer, they shouldn’t panic. Cancer is not a death sentence. Treatments have improved greatly over the years. Find what keeps you distracted, try not to let it overtake your life, and always talk to God.”
After talking with Janee, it serves as a reminder of the things we need to do for our health.
Preventative tests such as yearly mammograms, pap smears, and colonoscopies. Talk with your doctor about what you need to schedule.
Listen to your body. If something feels “off” in your health, trust your instincts. Talk with your
If you find yourself with a diagnosis of cancer, reach out to friends, family, your church family, and support groups.
Finally, if you are not diagnosed with cancer, but you know someone fighting this horrible disease, lend a hand to that person or family. The American Cancer Society defines a caregiver as the person providing in home care, a neighbor that brings in the mail, cuts the grass, brings a meal, or simply sits down to talk about the weather. Be a caregiver in any way you can.