Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor
If there is any one thing that has led to the support, strength and empowerment of women, it would have to be breast cancer.
Breast cancer effects nearly one in eight women in the United States today. Which is why Breast Cancer Awareness month has been created to raise awareness of the disease, its risks and its symptoms.
cancer is so common that most people have at met at least one person in their lifetime that has been affected by the disease. OBU in particular, has two women on campus who themselves have dealt with some of the effects of the cancer. One of these women is professor of history and political science Dr. Sherri Raney.
Dr. Raney is now ten years cancer free after her bout with the disease in March of 2007. Raney herself discovered a small lump on her breast that hadn’t shown up on previous mammograms. From this experience, Raney had a word of advice to give.
“One of the things I want to share, is that all women need to be doing their self-examinations,” Raney said. “Especially if you have any history of cancer in your family.”
After finding the lump she went to her doctor and had an external exam, a mammogram, an ultra sound, and a biopsy that confirmed the lump was malignant. A week later she went in for an MRI and had a surgery to remove the tumor a week after that. Making the discovery of the lump to the day of the surgery equaling out to three weeks’ time.
Raney received the best results possible from her surgery with the margins being completely clear. As well as her lymph nodes showing up clear as well. But, she did have a fast-growing tumor that got up to the size of what they call a 2A. For this reason, her doctor wanted her to go through with chemo and radiation.
Raney went through eight chemo treatments and 33 treatments of radiation spanning from the spring of 2007 to the winter of 2008. She lost of all her hair and was very weak at times, but she said had complete peace. Raney said her biggest take away from this experience is that prayer works.
“Friends and family all over the country, all over the world prayed for me during this ordeal and I felt such peace. Truly that peace that passes all understanding,” she said. “I never lost a minute of sleep worrying about the outcome.”
Sadly, there are many women who don’t feel the same peace. In many cases, breast cancer can lead to clinical depression due to the emotional distress put on the patients while having the disease. According to the article “Major depression after breast cancer: a review of epidemiology and treatment” in General Hospital Psychiatry, this reaction is very common.
“Major depression is a frequent but underrecognized and undertreated condition among breast cancer patients, which causes amplification of physical symptoms, increased functional impairment and poor treatment adherence,” according to the article.
Along with depression, some breast cancer patients also face physical limitations or impairments. These limitations can affect a woman’s strength, motion and dexterity. Studies show that up to 39 percent of patients have reported at least one limitation after initial treatment such as chemo or radiation.
Although, there are certain patients who are lucky enough not to have to forego these treatments. One woman that might be recognizable is OBU’s very own professor of history Dr. Carol Humphrey.
Dr. Humphrey was diagnosed with DCIS also known as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ which is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. Because of this, she did have to have a mastectomy but did not have to go through chemo.
Humphrey said that because it was a pre-cancer it didn’t affect her day to day life as much but it still was a traumatic experience. She said the emotional reaction was the biggest for her but she was thankful they caught it early.
“It really did reinforce in my mind, “Okay you need to go see a doctor every year,”” Humphrey said. “It reinforced the idea that you should not to put anything off. Do things that need to be done now because who knows if you will still be able to later.”
The main point of Breast Cancer Awareness month is to make women aware of what they could be dealing with and how they can help prevent or catch it in the future. One way do so is to not put anything off like Dr. Humphrey said and to get the yearly mammogram.