Friendship, Scrapbooking Help Super Survivor Through Breast Cancer Journey
She knew to be alert for a lump in the breast. Her mother had passed away from breast cancer as well as an aunt and a grandmother. This mass, however, didn’t feel anything like what she had expected and so she thought it was harmless.
“I felt something in there, but it was long and felt like a vein. I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t a lump,” she said.
Six months later, Angela brought it up during a visit with her gynecologist, who referred her to have it examined. She learned that she had two tumors in the same breast, one positioned on top of the other, which had caused the unusual formation she had felt.
Angela is one of three women who were randomly chosen as Super Survivors to be honored at this year’s Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair. The fourth annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Super Survivors are women whose breast cancer journeys have been an inspiration to others. Their unique stories will be shared with fair-goers when the Super Survivors reveal their makeovers, courtesy of BJ Grand Salon and Spa, and their new outfits. The big reveal will take place at 12:30 p.m. on the Entertainment Stage during the women’s fair.
Angela, 50, lives in Springfield with her husband, Roger. They have two adult daughters and eight grandchildren. She watches three of her grandchildren during the day and has 30 birds – parakeets, conures, canaries, finches and more – who keep her company.
When Angela first received the news, “I took it OK,” she said. “I was fine until I walked out to my car” to call her husband. “I cried all the way home.”
She called her best friend, Kelly Griffitts, who went to her house and spent the day with her. Kelly also nominated Angela as a Super Survivor, describing her as “the strongest woman I know” and “a rock for everyone around her who was sharing in her grief.”
During Angela’s chemotherapy, which began Sept. 29, 2010, and lasted until Valentine’s Day the following February, “she would talk with the other patients as if they were family and give them reassurance,” Kelly wrote. “She knew what they were going through and gave these complete strangers her total support while we were there.”
“I think what helped me most was Kelly,” Angela said. “She was there every day. All I had to do was pick up the phone, and she was there. She doesn’t realize it, but she pushed me. When I would get tired, she helped me get back up to do more.”
The hardest obstacles during her treatment were when her father had stents put in while she was undergoing chemo – “I couldn’t get off my couch to be with my dad,” she said – and when one of her sisters had a heart attack on the same day as her double mastectomy.
“I just took it as it came, one day at a time,” she recalled. “You just don’t give up. You have to keep pushing yourself.”