Editor’s note: Some stories journalists write are personal, like this one.
Tracy Newby and her husband Bob are dear friends of ours. We travel together, socialize often and have weathered a few bumps in our journey through life.
But nothing could have prepared me for a text I received from her on July 29, while enjoying dinner with my family.
The message was sent to me and our friend Lisa Pendleton.
It read, “I just want to tell you girls that I was diagnosed with breast cancer today. Don’t call right now because I’m too upset to talk.”
So I did what all good friends do: I called immediately.
We spoke about the diagnosis, the unknowns that accompanied it and the next steps she would take to rid her body of the disease.
Thanks to annual mammograms and early detection,Tracy’s diagnosis was positive from the start.
Today she is doing well and sharing her story with the hope of prompting other women to seek annual mammograms that might save their lives as well.
Q: DOES BREAST CANCER RUN IN YOUR FAMILY?
“No, it does not.”
Q: HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET A MAMMOGRAM?
“Once a year. I never miss. During the last two years I had one every six months. I have fibrous breast tissue, so my doctor was watching for changes very closely.”
Q: HOW DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU HAD BREAST CANCER?
“In July, Dr. Nanette Evans called me back to have a second mammogram because they saw something suspicious. They did a more thorough exam and that’s when they discovered a very small tumor in my left breast.”
Q: IN TERMS OF EMOTION, WHAT WAS YOUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE FOLLOWING THE DIAGNOSIS? “I started bawling. I felt absolute fear. You hear the word ‘cancer’ and think ‘I’m going to die,’ but Dr. Evans assured me that it wasn’t going to kill me.
“But I wasn’t sure I believed that. I thought she was trying to make me feel better.”
Q: HOW DID YOU DECIDE YOUR COURSE OF TREATMENT? “I immediately wanted a double mastectomy. I wanted the most aggressive form of treatment I could get. But after a biopsy and meeting with my oncologist, we made the decision to have a lumpectomy because the tumor was so small and caught so early.”
Tracy’s surgery took place Aug. 28 at Texas Health Fort Worth. It was a day surgery and she was home that evening.
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR RECOVERY LIKE? “It was quick and easy. I never had any pain, zero. I resumed my normal daily activities pretty quickly, but I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for four weeks.”
Q: WILL YOU HAVE CHEMOTHERAPY OR RADIATION? “I am having radiation in Weatherford for 10 minutes every day of the work week for four weeks.”
Q: WHAT’S YOUR PROGNOSIS? “It’s good because the cancer was caught early.”
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN FACING A BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS? “Make sure you write down everything the doctors say because I was in shock in the days following my diagnosis. After meeting with five or six doctors everything started running together.
“I would also recommend keeping your paperwork from each doctor organized in different folders for easy access.”
But the one thing Tracy says is most important for all women is to get routine mammograms.
“Get one every year and do not miss it,” she said. “It could save your life.”