"I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Dec. 2010. I never dreamed that was what it would be. I have always done my mammograms, never missed any. I might be a month late at
times, but I'd always get them within the year,” she said, noting the importance of regular testing to diagnose and treat any form of cancer.
“They say early detection is the prime thing as far as things not being as bad as what they could be so I always tried to get my
mammograms. I'd had a few that had come back
where I'd have to go back and do a second mammogram,and they would be OK.
“This time, this one wasn't OK. “You never know because I never dreamed, even when they sent me for my biopsy. I thought it was just another step.
Mason went to a doctor in Nashville to have her biopsy and found out she had cancer.
She began treatments for her cancer at the Tennessee Oncology offices in Lebanon.
“We tried an experimental drug for six months that didn't work on me. It does work for a lot of people, but on my particular type of cancer, it didn't work,” she said.
Mason’s tumor grew during the time she was taking the experimental drug, and her physicians began exploring other treatment options.
“I had surgery on May 26 and started my chemo in June 2011,” said Mason.
“As far as the surgery goes, it was a breeze. I had no problem at all. Chemo was really bad. I took a drug they call the 'red devil'. After I'd take my treatment, I would be down 10-12 days sick. I needed IV fluids to get my blood counts back up. Chemo was a rough ride.
“Then, after my chemo I went into radiation and finished radiation Jan. 31. I had 33 radiation treatments, and radiation wasn't bad at all. It was a breeze compared to chemo.”
Women with a family history of breast cancer are considered to have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves, and Mason says she has several family members who have suffered from cancer.
“My mother's got breast cancer, my grandmother had breast cancer, and lots of cousins on both sides of Mom and Dad's families have had cancer. Daddy died of lung cancer, and Mom has been six years free of breast cancer.
"You think, this is never going to happen to me, but it can so always get your mammograms. Not all times can you feel the lump. They always tell you to do breast exams, but, sometimes you can't feel them yourself. I never did feel mine, and, even after they told me where it was, I still couldn't.
“All I say is get your mammograms and keep your appointments, because you never know.
“I thank God every day for the health that I do have because that's what's gotten me through. The support of family and friends is just beyond. Because, if we don't have the support of family and friends and God, I don't know what we'd be.”
Although Mason has finished her treatments, she still has several visits to doctors in her future.
“I still have my port, and I have to have it flushed every three weeks. Once a month, I go back to the radiation doctor. Every three months, I have to go back to my surgical oncologist. Then, I've got to have a scan in about four more months.
“I had told someone that I never did say, 'Why me?' I viewed it as more or less a blessing that God allowed me to meet the doctors and the nurses and get so close to them.
“It's almost like a blessing that he let me learn what they go through every day and what special people they are. They see this every day, and they’re so passionate and caring for each patient,” she said.
Throughout her recovery, Mason says she’s learned not to take anything for granted.
“I tried to keep my head up and tried to be positive. That's the key, being positive.
Things could be worse. "I've got a wonderful family, and a wonderful support group, and a wonderful bunch of people to work with.”