I am living hope.

I am living hope

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. CRMC wants women to be inspired by reading the stories of these five local breast cancer survivors. They share stories of hope, life, and encouragement. Their message to women is clear – be proactive in your health, do your monthly self-breast exam, and have your annual mammograms.

Schedule your mammogram during the month of October by calling 620-252-1523.

Shirley Pearson, Breast Cancer Survivor
Shirley Pearson, Breast Cancer Survivor

Shirley Pearson

Shirley Pearson was familiar with cancer — she had been cancer free for 39 years, following a battle with cervical cancer. She also supported her daughter through a fight with breast cancer just 6 years prior. But, no matter how familiar you are with it, you’re never prepared when they tell you those three words: you have cancer.

Pearson was due for a mammogram, but on December 31, 2016, she found a lump that was diagnosed as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in February of 2017. “I never thought I would have cancer again,” said Pearson. “But, I had my family and my cancer team and God.”
Pearson had the same cancer in the same breast that her daughter had years earlier. However, unlike her daughter, who decided to have a mastectomy, Pearson chose to have a lumpectomy performed in March of 2017.

Pearson followed her surgery with radiation treatments here at CRMC, under the care of Dr. Uy. “The staff at CRMC are wonderful—it’s good to have a team behind you in your own community,” said Pearson.

Pearson recently finished her last round of radiation treatments on September 1, 2017.

Linda Benning

Like many women, Linda Benning wasn’t good at remembering to perform a self-exam on her breasts. In fact, it was very odd that she found the lump at all. “I was just reaching over my shoulder to grab something and laid my hand on my breast and felt it. I wouldn’t have known it was there at all,” said Benning. “The doctor said it is unusual to find a lump that small — it was the size of a really large pea.”

Linda visited her OB/GYN, Dr. Miller, and he ordered a mammogram. Benning mentioned that the area appeared to be a cyst or tumor, but looked suspicious so Dr. Miller and the general surgeon scheduled a lumpectomy in March 2016. She was given the option for a mastectomy or partial and she opted for the lumpectomy.
Following surgery, she learned it was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and she needed to have her lymph nodes checked. She went into surgery and had eight lymph nodes removed, but thankfully the cancer had not spread.

Following her initial surgeries, Benning had 33 radiation treatments over the course of just a few weeks. It was shortly after the completion of treatments that Benning had a CT scan and PET scan — both of which ruled out any additional problems. However, her uterus didn’t look right and Dr. Miller suggested a D&C, which returned with abnormal cells. At this point, Dr. Miller recommended a full hysterectomy, which was performed on June 1, 2016.

“I never had a time where I felt uncomfortable with the staff at CRMC.

Dr. Miller delivered two of my children, that was one reason I chose CRMC, plus he continued to check in on me throughout—he and Dr. Ogundipe spoke up for me and I trust their opinions,” said Benning. “The surgery team is exceptional. They were inquisitive of my job as a Vet Tech Teacher. I teach anesthesia and assist in surgery classes, so I was able to ask questions that others might not. They were always happy to answer my questions and explain things to me. They’re just nice people.”

Linda Benning, Breast Cancer Survivor
Linda Benning, Breast Cancer Survivor
Lisa Myers, Breast Cancer Survivor
Lisa Myers, Breast Cancer Survivor

Lisa Myers

When Lisa Myers was told she had breast cancer, she walked out of the general surgeon’s office like a zombie. It was June 2016 and she was 53 years old. A little more than a year before her diagnosis, Myers lost her sister-in-law to cancer, so she learned to ask questions.

“Have a good support system, trust in God, and ask questions,” said Myers. “The more questions that you ask, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

Following a mastectomy performed by the general surgeon, Myers leaned on her husband for support. “I felt a loss after my mastectomy, but he told me I was beautiful and I believe him,” said Myers.

Under Dr. Uy and Dr. Ogundipe’s care, Myers underwent radiation and chemotherapy through CRMC. “The doctors, nurses and staff were awesome. They always treated me well. Even when I was scared, they put me at ease,” she said. “My support team was there for me.”

The team at CRMC did their best to support Myers. Sharon Davolt helped Myers obtain a mastectomy bra, a wig, and scarves when she lost her hair. “Sharon was a really big help,” said Myers. “The cancer team also set up a cosmetician to come in and teach us the best way to do makeup while we were undergoing treatment.”
Myers is still fighting her cancer today through chemotherapy at CRMC and has a positive outlook on her future.

Shirl Marion

Shirl Marion was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on December 2, 2011, at just 47 years old.

She had a mammogram coming up and decided to perform a self exam at home. That’s when she found the lump … and the worst part was that the lump was under the arm and painful. She visited with Dr. Chappell and Dr. Dara Gibson, who told her to go to the ER where they performed a CT scan. She was admitted into the hospital where she was told the news: yes, it was cancerous.

She was given the option of either a lumpectomy or mastectomy. “I spoke with my husband and we decided to have them take the entire breast,” said Marion. “They treated me so well, they gave me all the options and they spoke to me with respect and encouragement.”

Following her mastectomy, Dr. Ogundipe and Vicky Portwood, RN, MSN, OCN, Director of Cancer Services, met with Marion to talk about the next steps. “I would recommend CRMC’s cancer team to anyone, from Dr. Ogundipe and Vicky Portwood to Dr. Uy and the entire staff,” she said. “I had the right to be scared, but they encouraged me to work through this and told me they would help me become cancer-free.”

It took Marion a while to adjust to the loss of her breast, but had an uplifting moment when Vicky Portwood and Dr. Ogundipe helped her to find a mastectomy bra. “They are my heroes,” said Marion. “Vicky helped me to try on the bra — they saw me through the entire cancer process, from start to finish and made it so much easier for me.”

With a positive outlook for the future and healing to look forward to, Marion began her treatments. Today, she continues her follow-up appointments with Dr. Ogundipe on a yearly basis, with mammograms every six months.

Her advice to anyone going through a similar struggle is to keep faith. “Just believe in God and keep faith in the doctors treating you — they can help you and they will,” said Marion, “as long as you have the support from friends and family you can make it through this.”

It was that advice and support that helped her own mother, Shirley Pearson, make it through a similar battle with breast cancer. “We were the support for one another,” said Marion. Pearson recently finished her last treatment at CRMC in early September.

Shirl Marion, Breast Cancer Survivor
Shirl Marion, Breast Cancer Survivor