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Patient Story

Lisa's story: Unexpected cancer inspires a career change

In Early 2017, Lisa Walters, age 45, noticed a small lump in her breast and visited her gynecologist for an exam. Although her gynecologist thought it was just a cyst, Lisa was instructed to get a mammogram in the next few months.

In the first week of October, Lisa had a mammogram at Northside/Holly Springs Imaging. An hour after her scan she received news from her doctor stating that she would need to come in the following day for further testing, as irregularities were spotted in her scan. The following day, Lisa had a second mammogram and an ultrasound as well as the biopsy. On October 10, she was diagnosed with stage 2A triple positive breast cancer.

Lisa was treated at her local hospital in Holly Springs and underwent six chemotherapy treatments before having surgery. On March 28, 2018 she had a bilateral mastectomy and implants. Following her surgery, she received 11 additional rounds of chemotherapy.

Because her cancer was hormonally based, Lisa consulted with her doctors about additional ways to protect her from recurrences. She moved forward with a full hysterectomy on November 27, 2018, giving her a newfound peace of mind. Lisa relied heavily on her husband and two children for support during her treatment, calling them her cheerleaders.

Lisa still visits her oncologist every three months and her breast surgeon every six months, for regular checkups. She will also be on hormone-suppressing medications for the next ten years. Lisa sees her health journey as an opportunity to inspire others.

My body is still trying to get back to normal, but in the mean time I want to do what I can to make a difference,” Lisa said. “I’m looking into a career in health care so I can make an active difference in people’s lives every day.”

Recently, Lisa was invited to participate in an art and health program for cancer survivors at Northside Hospital Cherokee, put on by the nonprofit organization Feel Beautiful Today. During the afternoon’s event, Lisa posed for professional photos. The themed portfolio created by Feel Beautiful Today is called, “Warrior Within,” which will include images of Lisa and other survivors.

It gave me chills to see the photos,” Lisa said. “I can only imagine the impact it would have made on me during my cancer journey to have a book like this. Just seeing the positive words and stories reminds you that you aren’t alone.”

Lisa enjoys volunteering in her spare time now, and eventually hopes to get involved in the infusion rooms at hospitals like Northside.

As I looked for ways to bring happiness into my life, especially in the year following treatment, I found volunteering to be the most fulfilling,” Lisa said. “Helping others brought so much happiness into my life. Any time I can help someone else, I know a blessing came out of it all.”

*The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50 percent five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.

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