When Marilyn Nelson found out that the tiny lump in her breast was cancerous she was scared. She was only 34 years old and married with two small daughters. That was 19 years ago and the St. James native has been cancer free since then.
She recently spoke with the Rolla Daily News about her experience with cancer and how it has changed her life.
Tell me about the initial diagnosis. What happened?
I was just 34 and during a routine check I found a lump and went into the doctor right away to have it checked. They told me it was an agressive kind of breast cancer. It went from the size of a pea to the size of a red apple in the course of several months.
What was your reaction?
I was shocked and scared. More of a concern and hassle was the fact that my husband's health insurance at the time said we could not have treatment or surgury here in the Rolla area. So it meant that we would have to travel to St. Louis.
What was your course of treatment?
I went through four months of chemotherapy. I then had surgery which took seven hours. It ended up being stage four cancer. And then I had another whole year of chemo. Interestingly, my case was presented to a medical board of doctors to find out if the benefits of radiation would be better or worse. After a year of treatment, I was given a clean bill of health.
How did your family react?
My family was worried. I couldn't have asked for anyone more supportive though than my husband. He was incredible. He stood close by my side the whole entire time.
Does cancer run in your family?
No there was no family history there. The doctors said that my cancer was a case of environmental causes. However, after my cancer, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.
Did the experience change your life?
Oh most definetly. When you get married, you know that you love that person but when you go through something like cancer you can't explain how close you really are to them. Each day is a gift and you live each day to the fullest becuase you might not have tomorrow. If it wasn't for God's blessings I wouldn't be here. Also I have had a lot of friends with breast cancer. Some of them made it. Some haven't. To go through it is much easier than to watch someone go through it. It was very hard to watch my mom go through this.
Any advice for someone who has just gotten a diagnosis of cancer?
Page 2 of 2 - Never give up hope.