Judy and Del Myers
Family: Jinger & Jack Emerson, Kim & Kenny Flake, & Terri Myers (daughters) (Grandchildren) Justin & Jessica Emerson, Jonathan Szot, Kendall Flake, & Michael Carter (Great Granddaughter) MaKenzee Szot. Sister who was with me every step - Lu Bowman
Status: Cancer free for 2 years
Diagnosis and treatment: I was diagnosed with a well differentiated grade 1, stage 2, infiltrating mammary ductul carcinoma breast cancer. The tumor had the Her2neu protein 3+ and estrogen 3+. My treatment was 6 rounds of Carboplatin & Taxotere every 3 weeks and 52 weeks of Herceptin. There were also 33 radiation treatments.
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How did you cope with the treatment and recovery process? I handled the chemo well according to Dr. Pippas and my body responded to the treatment. By doing what the doctors and my medical team told me to do, I was able to handle the side effects well.
What's changed about your life since the diagnosis? Due to the type of cancer I had, I have to stay away from sweets and fats as much as possible and also eat mostly organic foods. I have had an education on cancer-causing foods and foods that fight cancer. Very important that I exercise daily. Exercise is just as important as your diet after cancer. With the long term side affects, I am limited on what I am able to do due to the fatigue and other problems but it gets better every day so I have to be patient. I have always put my trust in the Lord to see me through all the things I have been through in my life so this made this cancer journey so much easier. I thank my parents daily for giving me this foundation and this is why I try to encourage young parents to teach their children about Jesus. I learned years ago to look for your angel every day and during my journey, He sent several some days.
What advice would you offer someone newly diagnosed? Cancer is not as scarey as you think it is. Just remember Who is in control, trust Him with all your heart, and don't try to understand why things happen. Be sure you do what your doctors and medical team tell you to do. If you don't, you are the one that will suffer from your hard headedness and you will also be wasting your money and the money they spent going to college so they can care for you now.
How can a friend or family member show support to a loved one going through treatment? Be there for them by sending get well cards, taking food, calling and just letting them know you care.
Judy's story: On September 27, 1998 Del and I were married and joined our families together. Del had two daughters, Kim Flake (son-in-law is Kenny Flake) and Terri Myers and I had one daughter, Jinger Emerson (son-in-law is Jack Emerson). At the time we had three grandsons together, Jonathan Szot, Michael Carter, and Justin Emerson. We have also been blessed with two granddaughters, Kendall Flake, Jessica Emerson and a great granddaughter, MaKenlee Szot since that wonderful day. We celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary this year, something we were unsure we would be doing two years ago after learning I had breast cancer. God has truly blessed us, so at this time, we would like to share our story on our Breast Cancer Journey from our first trip until now, being a two-year cancer survivor, and how He has been with us every step of the way.
I had a routine mammogram in April 2010, but in May 2010, I found myself at the valley of the shadow of death. I was diagnosed with a well differentiated grade 1, stage 2, infiltrating mammary ductul carcinoma breast cancer. The tumor had the Her2neu protein 3+ and estrogen 3+. This meant it was not the inherited type of breast cancer but was caused by the Her2neu protein and estrogen. I was thankful to hear this because I have a daughter and sister that could be affected had it been inherited. It fed on estrogen, fats and sweets. This is why I eat organic foods; watch my fats and sweets as much as possible. There is estrogen in many foods especially dairy products, beef and chicken. It looked dark as I was starting my walk to the end of that dark dreadful valley. With Del holding my hand, and a precious puppy, Fifi, who brought comfort to both of us we started our journey.
Del was by my side through all the doctor visits and John B. Amos Cancer Center visits of 52 chemo and 33 radiation treatments while taking care of everything at home. Anyone who has not been through cancer has no idea what the caregiver goes through. He made certain all I had to do was what the medical team told me to do to get through this journey. During my treatments I would have to unplug my IV Pole and take it with me to the bathroom. Del was there to help me get to the bathroom while pushing the IV pole without turning it over or letting me fall. As I passed others in treatment I would tell them I never thought I would be a Pole Dancer. Daily, I praise God for giving me Del.
Fifi stayed by my side when the chemo waves came and had ill effects on my body. She let me know when it was time to play and get my exercise on the good days. She seemed to know where I was hurting and would lie next to that part helping take the pain away. She also reminds me now when it's time to rest or play. The days the chemo waves were strong; Del, Fifi, and I would just jump on that surfboard, with Jesus holding us on, and ride them till they settled down. We completed the treatments in May, 2011. Then the fight began.
The advise I would tell someone newly diagnosed is to go to the meeting at JBACC explaining what the treatments are all about and get the notebook full of valuable information. Take that information and do exactly as it says and it will make everything so much easier for you. When Dr. Pippas told us not to make any plans for 52 weeks, we found out quickly what he meant and this is what you need to do. This is one time you have to put YOU first so you will have the strength to fight your cancer. This way you will slowly regain your strength and be able to take care of others. Don't fight the symptoms, accept them and do what you are told to do when they come. Get your exercise daily even if it's just 5 minutes several times a day, eat a carbs, protein and vegetable at each meal, even if it takes all day to do it, and drink at least 64 oz of water a day. This keeps your body's digestive system moving and gives you strength to fight.
Don't forget the caregiver. Take him food so he will have something to heat up quickly in the microwave. Send cards, visit for just a few minutes, call and check on them. Let them know they are loved and you are concerned. Support from family and friends is what makes the patient try harder to overcome cancer and the caregiver know they are loved. Love from family and friends and having the love of Jesus Christ helps you have a positive attitude. This is more than half the battle.
Most people think once you get through your treatments it's all over and you will be fine in a few months. Not so. I have long term lingering fatigue and cannot perform at the level before chemo, along with other long term affects. While you are taking chemo not only does it kill the bad cells, it kills the good cells in your body too. Just as a little baby has to grow new cells daily to become a child, teenager, and adult, your body has to rebuild these cells and you have a "New Norm".
I could not figure out why I am just so tired, really more so than when I was going through treatment. My medical team explained it was due to the long-term effects and told me I was trying to do too much too fast, so I had to slow down. They even told me limit the time I spent on Facebook each day. It subconsciously causes stress you don't realize and causes some of the fatigue. I heard it on TV and in the paper that same week so God was reinforcing through the media what the doctors had told me. He knows how stubborn I am when I want to do something. (hahahahaha)
If I get Alzheimer's, Del said he has already learned how to handle it. My chemo brain has been a trip for us and yes, Chemo Brain is real. It's hard to remember names and even my own phone number when I get tired. That's why I call him Sweetheart instead of Del! He says he slept too close to me during my radiation and chemo because my chemo brain has affected him. He's forgetting more now too!! (hahahaha) Del cut his hair short when I lost mine and the funny thing is, mine came back and his is still gone! (hahahaha)
Sometimes we wonder why things happen but, when we look back, we know it was done for our good and for God's Glory to be shown.
Even now, I know my cup has overflowed with love from everyone with all the visits, food, who was and is praying for me and the support received from my family. My husband and Fifi are my constant comfort the Lord has given me. They are there so all I have to do is what the doctors tell me to do to get to the green pasture. After being cancer free since my last treatment September 2010 I am almost there!!!
Our Valleys are the call from God to let us know, He is there for us. It allows Him to show us His love and to have us love Him more.
I do not fear death, for what is death; it is life. Life in the House of the Lord forever.