“I never wondered if I would have cancer,” Joan Whorton says. “I wondered when I would have it.” She lost a sister and niece to breast cancer and her husband to colon cancer.
Joan was accustomed to fibrocystic changes and knew when to seek attention. That time arrived in May 2011; a lump was changing. Her doctor at Harris Health Casa de Amigos listened to her and even questioned the results of a mammogram. A biopsy confirmed their suspicions.
“I wasn’t surprised,” she says. “I started praying. In a week, I went from fear to wondering why to denial to determination not to let it get the best of me.”
She was scheduled for a mastectomy and chemotherapy at Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. “The Lord placed so many people in my path to encourage me. The techs, the nurses, the doctors kept saying, ‘There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We will get you through this.’ To know that you have cancer, and that there are all these people rooting for you is amazing. My fear was dispelled by their encouragement.
“What words could I use for the people at LBJ? They are awesome. Kind. Compassionate. The doctors have a good bedside manner. Everyone is amazing, from the infusion nurses to transportation. My family remarked on how nice they are.
“My family also got me through this. It was a blow to us to have more cancer. There were days that I was down. I don’t know if it was the medication or the journey, but my faith kept me going.”
Her advice to others with cancer is to not give up. It’s okay to feel sad, but don’t give in to those feelings. Keep going. She takes her own advice. She has modified her diet, exercises a little more, reads her Bible, cares for her plants and dotes on her grandchildren. “Now I’m good. I’m here and strong, living one day at the time.
“Today my prayer is, ‘God, if I can help anyone through recovery, I want to offer it to others.’”