If Cathy Scott didn’t listen to her gut, who knows how different her life may be right now.
Having cystic breasts, Cathy routinely examined her breasts and one day in September, 2011, she felt something “different.” At first she didn’t think much of it; she had had her routine mammogram in July and nothing was suspicious then. Her doctors told her the cyst would go away, but the feeling in Cathy’s “gut” was like a steady alarm constantly ringing and keeping her alert. After seven months, the cyst did not go away and Cathy decided it was time to get some definitive answers.
This is Cathy’s story in her own words…
“I went to see my OBGYN in April 2012 to have the cyst aspirated, something I had done before, but this time was different. The cyst was very dense and the doctor could not aspirate it and as a precaution, I was sent for a diagnostic mammogram. A few days later on April 25, I went into the doctor’s office for a diagnostic mammogram. I learned that same day I had breast cancer – lobular carcinoma Stage 1. To say I was shocked is an understatement.
I was at the appointment by myself; I wasn’t expecting to hear I had breast cancer. I thought this would never happen to me. I’m healthy, I work out and I eat healthy. I was in a daze.
After the doctor told me the diagnosis, the room and everything around me felt as though it was muted. I focused on breathing and digesting the fact that I had breast cancer.
Honestly, my world stopped. I immediately thought of my kids and my husband. I thought, ‘how am I going to tell my kids? How am I going to tell my dad?’”
Cathy’s mom passed away from cervical cancer nine years ago. She saw first-hand how a cancer diagnosis could go and she was aware of the emotional effects of seeing a loved one battling a disease and being completely helpless. Cathy couldn’t bear the thought of having her family go through that.
“I couldn’t find the words to call my husband and tell him so I had the radiologist call Mike.”
“I knew she had a doctor’s appointment so when I saw Cathy’s number show up on my cell, I answered but to my surprise, it was not Cathy on the phone but someone else. That’s when I got concerned,” said Mike Scott.
“Just hearing the news and not knowing what to expect or what is to come – that is very difficult. I remember the car ride over to the doctor’s office and I was thinking, ‘what am I going to say to Cathy?’”
Dr. Larry Lilly at OhioHealth sat the Scotts down and was honest, Mike recalled. “He told us that the next year would be awful but we were going to survive.”
After hearing treatment options, the Scotts wanted to get a second opinion and eventually decided to get treatment at The James.
Telling the kids was a difficult moment and I was nervous. We knew families that lost loved ones to breast cancer and we wanted to get more information about my treatments and what to expect before we told them.
When we told the kids, they looked like deer in the headlights. They had a lot of questions and we were honest with them. I told them the cancer was caught early. I was scared, but I was lucky and that I was going to survive.
After much thought, Cathy decided to go forward with a lumpectomy and lymph node removal on June 1, 2012. After some more tests, the results revealed there were some cancerous cells in her lymph nodes and microscopic traces in others. Her diagnosis was bumped to Stage 2A. Dr. Charles Shapiro recommended four rounds of chemotherapy – four treatments every two weeks for July and August.
During Cathy’s chemo treatments, she was given Adriamycin and Cytoxan. Susan G. Komen funding helped discover how doctors could best use those two chemo drugs to help fight breast cancer with minimal side- effects, reduce cardiac stress and combine with other drugs or therapies – all to make sure the drugs can fight her breast cancer without hurting her.
“I’m an active person. I have three kids who are involved in sports and activities. The hardest part of the chemo was feeling tired, nauseous and losing my hair. I wanted to be strong for my kids; I was still able to work out and do things with the family, but there were days I was tired.
You hear of people going through chemo, but no one really knows what it’s like. I wanted to share that experience with my family and friends so at the encouragement and advice of a friend, for my last chemo treatment, I held a Chemo Party. The party was a time to celebrate the end of a difficult time. You start at such a dark and bumpy road and I was ending this on high note.
After my last chemo on August 31, 2012, I was able to transition back to my normal routine pretty easily. Although I was feeling great after my treatment, I still looked sick – I had no hair. It took awhile for my outward appearance to catch up to how I was physically feeling. I started getting anxious closer to my one year ‘cancer anniversary’ I was thinking, ‘did the chemo and radiation work? Will I have to go through all that again?’ I was a ball of nerves.
Hearing that I was clear was a huge relief. I think I finally exhaled and relaxed a bit. For the next four years, the thought of hearing bad news again will be in the back of my mind, but I feel confident. I am going to live and enjoy my family and my life.”
To celebrate the end of Cathy’s treatment, the family took a vacation to Mexico in November 2012.
“This experience brought me closer to family. I met so many people who I never would have met if I wasn’t diagnosed. Cancer puts your life in perspective. I don’t take anything for granted. The biggest lesson I learned through this whole deal is to advocate for yourself and for others. It’s important to know your body and what is normal for you. Being familiar with my body saved my life.”
“I never really knew how mentally and physically tough Cathy was until she had to go through all of this,” said Mike, “She handled her diagnosis and treatment with grace even though I know there were times she was scared and feeling really bad. She surprised me in many ways with her humor, but especially her toughness.”
Join Cathy in celebrating her year of survivorship at the Pink Tie Ball on September 7th. Ticket and event information is available online.