By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun
Cheerful and open-hearted, Karen Davis, advertising director for the Corsicana Daily Sun has been in sales for decades and she’s good at her work. But she has lived through some dark days, and 13 years later she still considers it part of her dues to talk to others about how they can get through it as well.
On Sept. 30, 1999, Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was her husband, Tony, who discovered the abnormal lump. A doctor’s visit later, and she was scheduled for her first mammogram. She was 36 years old with three children.
She had that test on the same day as another co-worker, she recalled.
“We all laughed and said ‘it won’t be anything,’” Davis recalled.
They were wrong.
The radiologist recommended she find a surgeon for a biopsy. Davis had never been under general anesthesia before.
“The only time I’d been in the hospital was to have babies,” she said. “I told the doctor, don’t wake me up and tell me I have breast cancer. If something needs to be done, just do it.”
The doctor did a lumpectomy, removing just the area around the tumor in that first surgery. She later had a mastectomy to remove the entire breast.
The night before her surgery Davis was unable to sleep and ended up praying in the darkness of her living room, waiting for dawn.
“It’s never happened to me before that night. I just had a warm peace come over me,” she said. “That’s an experience I’ll always hang onto.”
After that, she went through chemotherapy, which was devastating physically and mentally.
Chemotherapy hits each woman differently, and for Davis it was exhausting and painful. After each treatment, she got worse.
“You have days when you’re up, but others when you just want to cry,” she explained. “Especially when you look in the mirror and have no hair and your color’s not good.”
The importance of having friends around you who have gone through it really comes out at those times, she said.
Survivors keep the flames of hope alive.
“There’s a sisterhood there,” Davis said. “Anytime someone’s going through a crisis it’s important to have people who have gone through it, too.”
It’s been more than a decade since she went from being a patient to being a survivor, and it has given her a new perspective, she said.
“It makes you thankful for everyday we take for granted,” Davis said.
Her church, friends, and family helped her through the experience by bringing food and “baby-sitting” her after each treatment. At first, Tony declined the offers of meals, but later came to appreciate the thoughtfulness so that he didn’t have to come home after work and cook for their three kids.
“Cancer doesn’t just affect the person who has it, it affects the entire family,” Davis said.
She also made new friends, and found friends who she didn’t realize were also suffering from cancer.
“You meet remarkable people when you go through something like that,” Davis said. “And there’s always someone else who’s worse off.”
Going through cancer makes you stronger, she said. “You go through things you don’t think you can.”
Prior to having cancer, she pitied those who were diagnosed, but it wasn’t something she could relate to, she said. Now, when she hears that someone in the community has been diagnosed it’s much more vivid and personal.
“It is, because you’ve lived through it.”
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com