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Breast Cancer, a personal perspective

Breast Cancer, a personal perspective

Breast Cancer. Two words many of us hope we never have to hear come out of a doctor's mouth, utter about ourselves, or hear that a friend or family member is fighting. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a CCH employee is talking about it from a very, very personal level.

Posted September 14, 2014: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer this week and have a long road ahead of me … I've devoted my career to helping patients fight this battle and now I get to see it from the other side." ~ Leigh Worsley.

Leigh is the Manager of the Heptner Cancer Center at Campbell County Health—she is a Radiation Therapist and Dosimetrist and has worked in the field of Radiation Therapy for more than 15 years. She has two sons, Chase and Coleman, who she loves dearly. Anyone who is fortunate to know Leigh knows that cancer, indeed, has "picked the wrong chick to mess with."

Leigh has made her fight with early-stage infiltrating ductal breast cancer public on CaringBridge and is sharing her posts on the CCH Health Connect Blog. Below are a couple of her updates.

Leigh Worsley

Leigh's Story
I never thought after working with cancer patients for 15 years that I'd become one. Here I am and I'm ready to fight!

I felt a lump a month ago after doing a self-exam—so please, please, please do breast exams on yourself regularly. If you don't learn what your breasts feel like then you will have a harder time determining if something doesn't feel right! I don't care who does it—yes that includes you husbands and boyfriends!

If you need a refresher on how to do a self-breast-exam, visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam

I had an ultrasound that confirmed my feeling that something wasn't right. A needle biopsy was performed the next day and I received the pathology results the following day. I knew in my heart what it was but it still wasn't easy hearing the "C" word! I had a PET scan and from that, it doesn't appear that it has spread anywhere else, except maybe a lymph node but that is still questionable.

The good news is that I caught it early! I had my yearly mammogram in January of 2014 and nothing was there so that's another reason why self-breast exams are important because if I hadn't been a regular fondler of my breasts, I wouldn't have known for four more months and it could have ended up much worse.

I am planning on having my chemo and radiation treatments here in Gillette at the Heptner Cancer Center, and I'm leaving the surgery up to the breast cancer pros down in Denver.

The main reason I decided to start this blog was to keep everyone informed—I am SO blessed to have such an amazing support system here in Gillette and everywhere else as well. I can't begin to tell you the amazing prayers and thoughts that I have received from so many people. My boys and I are blessed beyond measure!

Leigh Worsley Shaving Her Head

Chemo #2 down…and also a head of hair!
I started being able to run my fingers through my hair and get handfuls about a day before my second chemo treatment this week. After about two days of losing handfuls at a time, I decided it was time to just buzz it off.

I've always had such thick hair my whole life that I didn't think I would enjoy losing my locks like that LOL! So I took control over that small, yet HUGE step in my cancer treatments. My hairdresser is also a very dear friend and I know that it was probably harder on her than it was on me. I was able to have several of my girlfriends there for support, which helped too!

It turns out that my head isn't near as big and pointy as I always imagined it would be. The boys actually dig my new do! When I picked Coleman up from football practice that day, all he kept saying was that I looked like his sister! (HA HA) I will tell you though—it is nice being able to shower and be ready and out the door in under 25 minutes!

Chemo Thursday went well. My blood counts stayed strong between chemo 1 and 2—I pray that they continue to do so so that I can stay on track! My bones didn't ache as much with this treatment as they did the first one—I'm still tired and a little achy overall but hanging in there!

I will never be able to thank everyone enough times that have brought us food, offered help, etc. We couldn't do it without each and every one of you!

I felt pretty much back to normal after the weekend after the first chemo—worked all week and felt great. I'm hoping that happens this time, too. I do feel better when I'm moving around and staying busy!

I have always believed that my patients tolerated treatments better when they stayed busy and lead as normal of a life as possible, guess I'll be living proof now!

You can read more about Leigh's fight, and cheer her on, at her CaringBridge page.