Breast cancer survivor encourages women to take care of themselves

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 6, 2012 

Katy Carroll Moncus says the hardest part of her treatment for breast cancer was the thought that her fertility might be affected.

"I had heard that chemotherapy can shut down the reproductive system," she said. "We wanted children so bad. That would have been a double whammy."

That was 2009.

This past March 29, Moncus, now cancer free for nearly three years, gave birth to Lola Kathryn.

"She is a blessing," Rollins Moncus said of his daughter.

Not all breast cancer stories have a happy ending. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the second leading cause of death among women in the United States. Each year it is estimated that more than 220,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with the disease and more than 40,000 will die.

The message that Katy delivers to women is "remember to take care of yourself."

"Women get so busy they do not take proper care of themselves. They must be aware of their bodies. If something does not seem right, don't be afraid to get it checked out," she said.

Katy, then a 29-year-old triathlete with no family history of cancer who did not smoke, first became aware of her problem when she noticed a lump in her left breast while stepping out of the shower.

"Not in a million years did I think it could be cancer," she said. "That was for older women. I had not felt bad one day."

She had a biopsy done. By the expression on the doctor's face, she knew the news was not going to be good.

On July 13, 2009, she got the diagnosis. "It was a total shock, obviously. I was devastated," she said.

"Thank God that the lump was so close to the skin that Katy could notice it. That it was caught early was a blessing. The cancer had not spread, " Rollins said.

The couple, who met at Aflac, where they both still work, had been married three months at the time.

"At first, I thought they could just cut it out," Katy said.

Her cancer was growing fast and aggressive treatment was needed. A year of weekly chemotherapy treatments led to Katy becoming cancer-free. "Thankfully, the cancer was not in the lymph nodes." Katy said.

Katy, treated at the John B. Amos Cancer Center, lost all her hair. Rollins shaved his head, as did Katy's father and sister. She tolerated the medication but was constantly tired.

"It is tough watching your wife go through something like this. I just tried to be there for her. a shoulder to cry on," Rollins said. "Katy is strong-willed. She got it in her head that first night after the diagnosis that she would beat it."

The couple, who live in Box Springs, Ga., is grateful for the many people who supported Katy and prayed for her.

The message Katy has for women who are diagnosed with cancer is to have hope and a take charge approach to getting well.

"You have to be an advocate for yourself," she said. "You have to ask the right questions. You have to do research. Don't give up."

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