Editor’s note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today, The Dispatch offers three brief profiles of Golden Triangle women who have faced the disease.
Deborah Gardner, 60, is a Columbus resident, business owner and 10-year cancer survivor.
“After undergoing a lumpectomy surgery to remove it, I went through 33 preventive radiation treatments,” she said. “Thank the Lord it wasn’t in my lymph nodes.”
Deborah’s husband is a church pastor. She said her family was her primary source of support during her time with breast cancer.
“Our family has always been very strong, and have had strong faith,” she said. “Between my family, friends, and faith in God, I knew I would come out on top.”
If there’s one thing Gardner stresses, it’s for women to have regular checkups no matter their family history.
“My mother had never kept up with her checkups and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 75,” she said. “It was too late, and she didn’t make it.”
Although Deborah’s journey with breast cancer ended a decade ago, she still feels new with life like the day she was declared cancer-free.
“I love life,” she said. “I’m so thankful to still be here, and I hope I can continue be a help to someone else that may experience what I had to go through along the way.”
Paula Ivey is 65, and is the wife of Carl Ivey, owner of Village Cycle Center in Starkville.
Paula Ivey has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice.
“In 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time,” she said.
She received treatment for her cancer and when she was declared cancer-free, she was able to receive a kidney transplant after suffering from renal failure.
Last year, she found out she had breast cancer again during a normal checkup.
“It was a good type of cancer, if there is such a thing,” she said.
Ivey’s second type of cancer was completely contained, and did not require chemotherapy.
“I’m not only a survivor, twice, I’m a thrive-er for the grace of God,” she said. “He wants me here for a reason.”
Her advice is for women to stay up-to-date on checkups, and to always keep a positive attitude.
Edna McGill, 59, was diagnosed with breast cancer almost five months ago.
After her initial shock of receiving the news, she reached out to her friends in the community that are breast cancer survivors.
“I couldn’t believe how quickly my friends and family lifted me up in so many ways,” she said. “I had hope from the start.”
One of the things that keeps McGill going is the constant plan that she has for her treatment, and her future. She is actively looking beyond the cancer at her life after this journey. With the help of her husband, three sisters, and other family members, she is convinced that positivity is the key to survival.
Three weeks ago she visited her doctor for a checkup, and the tumor had decreased in size by half.
“I think one of the most important pieces of advice I can give is to get up and do something productive every day,” she said. “It’s crucial to keep going.”
McGill is scheduled for surgery in December, and is hoping by then that the chemotherapy reduces her cancer to nearly nothing. She plans to be cancer-free and moving on with her life just in time to see her son be married early next year.