May 2012 Survivor of the Month – Dorothy Sherrod

05-dorothy-sh“I discovered a difference”

Dorothy Sherrod’s Story by Elizabeth H.R. Osterberger

 

Sweet and humble, Dorothy Sherrod was a bit timid about her nomination to be May’s survivor of the month. However, she knew that her nominator loved her so much that she accepted the honor and joined the rest of the amazing people I have met in the past year and (almost) a half.

A long time survivor, she recounts her story,  “In 1986, during a self-examination, I discovered a “difference” in a particular area of the breast.  I immediately made an appointment to see my family physician.  After examining me he sent me to have a mammogram.  The radiologists viewed the mammogram the same day and sent me back to my family doctor so he could refer me to a surgeon.  The radiologist told me his opinion was that if it were his wife, he would have the mass removed.  I then saw a surgeon and within a week I had surgery to remove the breast.  I had given pre-approval for a mastectomy if the surgeon and the lab thought it necessary.  As further precautionary measures, I had chemotherapy treatments.  A year later, I had a follow-up mammogram on the other breast and a mass was discovered.  Cancer was not evident at that time, just abnormalities.  I decided not to risk cancer appearing later so I opted to have a mastectomy on this breast as well.  My decision was made based on the fact that I had a disabled husband and three children at home depending on me.  I knew I had functioned with one breast without any problems and I could survive without the other one as well.  As of today, I am celebrating twenty six years of being cancer free.  The Lord has blessed me generously.”

She truly values what Susan G. Komen for the Cure does to help breast cancer victims, “While in the hospital recovering from the surgery, someone from the organization visited me and furnished helpful information regarding the surgery and what to expect during the recovery.  I know it is a great support system for people recovering and provides much needed assistance to many.  I understand monies collected goes for research and cure,” she says of when she first heard of the organization.

Survivors are often inspiration and hope for other people going through the same issues. Being a 26 year survivor is awesome! Dorothy thinks, “My thoughts are you do what is necessary to survive.  It is of utmost importance that you do the self-examinations on a consistent basis.  I think it is important that you have a strong base of those that love you and support you and your decisions.  I was so fortunate to have a loving family and friends to confide my hopes and fears.”

As a survivor advocate, she participates in the community to try to spread awareness, “In the past I co-chaired another cancer group’s Effingham county event.  I am a strong advocate for cancer prevention.  I have subsequently lost my husband to lung/brain cancer and a sister to breast/brain cancer.  I know all too well the pain and heartache that can be caused by this devastating disease.  I encourage each and every one to do all of the pre-screenings that are available for all types of cancer.”

She is my 17th Survivor of the Month and I hope all of you can see her amazing bravery and strength in the photo we took at the edge of Lake Mayer in Bacon Park.

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