Editor’s note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The following is the story of one woman’s battle with the disease and her determination to beat it. Next Sunday, Stephenville resident Linda Peacock will share her story about battling breast cancer and how early detection and a routine mammogram might have saved her life.
She is a wife and stay-at-home mother of three-year-old twins. She is 36.
And in February, her life was altered in an unexpected way. While at home in DeLeon one evening with her family, Teisha Sherrard felt a lump in her right breast.
“All of a sudden it was just there,” Teisha said. “I noticed it by accident.”
Two days later, Teisha was at her doctor’s office beginning a battery of tests that days later would confirm her worst fear - breast cancer.
On Feb. 20, Teisha was purchasing groceries at Wal-Mart in Stephenville when her cell phone rang. It was the radiologist.
“The doctor asked if it was a good time to talk and I said ‘yes,’” Teisha said. “I had to know what the test results were.”
While paying her bill, gathering her groceries and keeping up with the kids, the doctor informed her that the four tumors inside her breast were malignant. She hung up the phone and called her husband of 17 years Brian.
“My first thought was, ‘I’m going to beat this. I’ve got two kids and I’m not going to leave them. I’m going to live to be 80 and watch them grow up and make me a grandmother,” Teisha said.
Brian, however, was less optimistic in the beginning.
“At first I thought it was hopeless,” Brian said. “But then you learn more (about cancer) and realize that it is possible to beat it.”
Six days later, Teisha was at The Breast Care Center in Fort Worth meeting with a surgeon who told her that the tumor had already grown since the mammogram, only days before, and that one of her lymphnodes was enlarged.
“The doctor told me the cancer was aggressive and I began treatment right away,” Teisha said. “There was no waiting. Everything moved very fast, which was a blessing.”
What followed was an aggressive treatment cycle that included four months of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation.
For the young family, the constant travel back and forth to Fort Worth was difficult. Brian, who delivers mail in Dublin, would finish his route, load up Teisha and the kids and head to the city for the next round of treatments.
Meanwhile, things in the Sherrard household ticked along as usual. Tired, but not sick, Teisha managed to keep up with the kids and continue taking care of the house through it all.
Teisha didn’t even flinch when she lost her hair.
“You just put on a hat and go,” she said.
And “go” seems to be this woman’s mantra.
“I finished my chemo on June 15 and my radiation on August 13,” Teisha said.
On Sept. 18, she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She also received some good news. There was no residual tumor left in the breast after the treatments and her lymphnodes were clear.
Today, life as she once knew it is getting back to normal.
“I don’t take life for granted anymore. I stop and smell the roses,” Teisha said. “Before, our life was hurried and rushed - and it still is - but I do take more time to enjoy the small things.”