Breast Cancer Survivor: Prevention is the key

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Breast Cancer survivor, Mary Joiner, stresses mammograms and self-checks. “If you have anything suspicious at all, get it seen about.” Pictured is Joiner.
Photo by Jeff Dorris, staff

Kennett resident Mary Joiner considers herself blessed, having battled breast cancer and surviving the potentially deadly disease.

“I was blessed,” stated Joiner. “ I was diagnosed with pre-stage one, everything was minute.”

The tumor was smaller than a BB when it was discovered.

“It wasn’t painful,” said Joiner. “I had no pain at all.

Joiner was diagnosed in May 2016.

She then had surgery in July.

“I had to have a lumpectomy and radiation,” recalled Joiner. “As of May 2017, I am good.”

All mammograms are normal and she continues to be cancer free.

“I go back this month for my blood work.,” informed Joiner. “My journey has been great. I am blessed.”

Joiner expressed gratitude for her medical team consisting of radiologist, Dr. Kevin Collins and oncologist, Dr. Scott Dorrah of NEA Baptist Hospital in Jonesboro.

“They were great,” said Joiner.

Joiner shared that there was a history of breast cancer in her family.

“My mother had breast cancer so at thirty-five I started getting checked,” stated Joiner.

“Mine was the most common,” said Joiner. “The doctor was able to to tell me I was not going to die, so that puts you at ease no matter what.”

Even knowing the cancer was not deadly Joiner states there was still fear and a lot of work ahead of her on the journey to recovery.

“It”s a battle but you’ve got to be positive,” shared Joiner.

She attributes her recovery to her faith and a strong support system.

“I had it at home and I had it at work,” said Joiner.

Joiner continued to work at the Pemiscot Dunklin Electric Co-Op where she is employed as a customer service representative.

“I worked the whole time,” said Joiner. “At times it was difficult.”

Joiner describes the radiation process.

“With the radiation, I burnt,” informed Joiner. “Because I’m so fair, it burnt me a lot worse than they had anticipated.”

Joiner continued, “The healing as far as the first month after the surgery was no big deal. But I have to say the radiation is something that is tough. It hurts in a way that you can’t even explain it.”

“The last eight treatments are what they call a boost, they hurt,” said Joiner. “It’s not a pain you can’t live with, but it is painful.”

The doctors informed her to expect to be less energetic.

“I didn’t notice I was having that much of an issue with it until I got to thinking, man I’m wore out,” said Joiner. “I’m tired. I was boosting myself up with vitamins, doing everything I could.”

The actual radiation treatment lasts about five minutes.

“The hardest part was getting positioned.,” said Joiner.

Joiner stated that work was a big help in keeping a positive attitude.

“It gave me something to focus on,” said Joiner. “Don’t sit and think about it,” advises Joiner.

Joiner continued, “Do what you got to do, scream and holler, then find things to keep you busy, occupy your mind.”

“You’ve got to have an attitude of let’s get it done,” Joiner said. “Let’s do what we’ve got to do and handle what you’ve got to handle. Be positive.”

Mary’s husband, Paul interjects, “Mary’s attitude has been she’s got breast cancer, breast cancer doesn’t have her. She took control of it.”

Mary stresses the importance of mammograms and self-checks.

Prevention is the key to all of it,” said Joiner.’If you have anything that is suspicious, get it seen about.”

Joiner reminds those who get a diagnosis to stay close to your faith and family and friends.

“You have to share the experience because it’s not something you can do by yourself,” said Joiner. “The good Lord has to have his hand in there and you’ve got to keep your hope in him.”

“How you feel mentally, it’s going to help you physically,” said Joiner.

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