Betty found what she calls a small pimple under her arm but wasn’t too worried about it until she saw a swollen lymph node. She received the news in May 2016: Betty had triple negative breast cancer, and so the journey began for her … five months of chemotherapy at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, 30 radiation treatments and another six months of chemotherapy.
“I knew a lot about cancer because all of my family members had been stricken with this disease,” Betty explains. “I was in total surrender; I was so worn out because of what I had gone through with family members, but I continued to plow through my days one day at a time. On my good days I participated in life, even when I didn’t want to.”
Betty was referred to Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute by Marcia Schmidt, the breast health navigator for Hurley. She recommended Betty get involved in the many programs and classes the institute offers free for cancer patients.
“I had to leave my job and so I had plenty of time on my hands,” Betty finds. I’m very glad Marcia recommended the programs at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute. They filled a void in my life, provided me with so much useful information and helped me transition into my new life as a breast cancer survivor.
“I use my faith and Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute for my strength. I have met so many wonderful people through my treatment and classes. We pray for each other and if someone has a scare, we are there for each other.”
Betty chose Raouf Mikhail. MD, a surgical oncologist, to perform her double mastectomy. “I was told he is the best surgeon in Genesee County; he came highly recommended. I was happy with him. He is a gentle and compassionate man.
“Doctors can tell you what to expect, and they can put your body back together, but they cannot heal your soul. The staff at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, along with the wonderful new friends I have met at the institute, have helped me with the healing process.”
After her treatments were over, Betty was left with anxiety and worry. What if the cancer returned?
“I was able to talk about it with the staff and my new friends, and they understood what I was feeling. Families get tired of listening to us; they need a break, and I didn’t want to worry them more,” Betty explains. That’s when her friends at Genesys Hurley Institute could fill that gap.
“It truly is a journey, a very long journey,” Betty reflects. “I expected to be in hospice, but, instead, I was back on the golf course. I’ve got a whole new pair of glasses and I see a lot of gratitude through them. The hardest part is the anxiety … wondering if the cancer will come back.
“Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute is such a compassionate place; someone always was there to help me … on good days and bad ones. It was OK to cry; they knew I needed it. They understood.”
When Betty was asked to serve as a volunteer at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, she said “yes” without hesitation. “It’s my turn to help others and provide hugs and a shoulder to cry on.
“I felt so at home at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute. I come here to cry, laugh, complain, and cry again. I can just be myself.”
Today, Betty is proud to carry her message – get your mammogram. “I delayed mine. When in doubt, check it out. Spread the message. Save someone’s life.”