“Thank God for mammograms,” says Cheris Reed, whose cancer was identified through a routine mammogram when she was 41. After revealing a suspicious spot, that mammogram was followed by another mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy. When she was told that the biopsy showed cancer, Reed says, she did not know what to do or where to turn.
“The doctors at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center were so encouraging and supportive, but it was hard to hear that word, ‘cancer.’ It was too much to swallow all at once. I felt like I had lost control of my life. There were decisions to be made, and I didn’t know the answers,” she says.
Reed’s doctor referred her to “Beginning Your Breast Cancer Journey,” a monthly program of DBCC and the Graham Cancer Center. The 90-minute program, Reed says, was not what she expected. “There was only me and one other newly diagnosed woman there, but they had every type of resource for us. There was someone there who could address my questions on surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, home care and even financial help. I left that program knowing that I could win this fight,” Reed says.
Reed was also assigned a peer mentor, a breast cancer survivor who goes through special training from DBCC. Reed’s journey has not been easy; she required a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. All the while she kept up as best she could with her busy life as a wife, mother and working professional.
“I tried to keep my head up and myself strong. I wanted to model this for my children,” she says. “It helped that I knew I could always pick up the phone and talk to my peer mentor and get myself back on track.”