SIDNEY — “You have breast cancer.”
It’s no news anyone wants to hear the first time, let alone a second. But a Sidney woman took on cancer twice and beat it courageously.
Janice Abbott, 66, a retired school teacher from Sidney City Schools, was first diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2002 after her annual mammogram.
“I had a lumpectomy and went through chemotherapy and radiation. And a year later I was pronounced cancer free,” she said.
Abbott, the mother of four adult children, then kind of put cancer on the back-burner, but continued to take medication and see her doctors every couple of months.
She retired from teaching in the summer of 2015, and started doing more of the volunteering, camping with her husband Dave, and playing with her grand kids, that she loves.
“I’ve been getting my mammograms in January. So I went to get mine this past January and two days later I got the phone call,” Abbott said. “They said there was something abnormal and they needed to do an ultrasound and all that stuff. All the doctor said they could do was take it off.”
So on Feb. 11 she had surgery, everything went fine and the surgeon told her they did all the treatment they could. So now she gets hormone therapy once a month, and is back on a six month schedule to see her doctors.
“I feel fine. I am back to all my normal activities. I even went on a three-week trip to Arizona two weeks after surgery,” Abbott said.
She worked through having cancer the first time, but was thankful to have the free-time retirement gave her for the second time around. All she had to do was get better.
“Breast cancer is different because you’re not sick – you don’t feel bad at all,” Abbott said. “Then you go to get these tests and suddenly something is wrong and you have to get all this stuff done to you that makes you feel bad. With other illnesses you feel bad and they give you medicine which makes you feel better, but with chemo you feel terrible.”
This year she will be participating in the Making Strides of the Northern Miami Valley event for the first time after many years of participating in Relay for Life.
“This time I thought, well I think I’d like to do something more specific for breast cancer. … I didn’t really plan to be on the steering committee, but it just sort of ended up that way,” she said.
On Saturday she is looking forward to walking with all the other survivors and supporters.
“There is a lot of support in the American Cancer Society. I really feel like anyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer should follow up with any support that they offer.”
Abbott got most of her support from her church and her family. As someone with a strong Christian faith she believed in the power of prayer, and really thought God must have had a purpose for her to give her cancer twice.
“It’s not a death sentence. Today in 2016, with the treatments, you’re pretty much going to go into remission. I would say, you just need to have a positive attitude, a support system, take care of yourself, and do what the doctor tells you to,” Abbott said.
She noted she’s always been a fairly positive person, but said breast cancer made her a stronger person.
“You don’t really know what you can get through until you’re faced with a problem, and I found I had more inside of me than I thought I did as far as physically and emotionally getting through it,” Abbott said.
She said when it came up the second time she was really upset, but once she went through the surgery and everything and started to feel physically okay, she thought, “okay, I guess I’m going to be okay again.”
“I think it just makes you appreciate life more. Everyday you can get up, get out of bed and say,’okay well I had cancer, I’m a cancer survivor’, the world just looks better,” she said.
Abbott would tell newly diagnosed people that they’re going to get through it – it’s just a bump in the road. And to get involved in something, whether it be Making Strides or Relay for Life.
“Get involved in something that makes you feel like you have a purpose again. It’s easy to say, ‘Why me? Why did this happen to me?’ But I kind of looked at it as a reason I had it again, so now I’m going to raise funds so when other people get it there will be more research done to fine tune treatments,” she said.
“All the people that come out Saturday will see all the survivors. Knowledge is power. The more you get out there and see you’re not alone. There’s something about being with others who have been through what you’ve been through,” Abbott said.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; Follow the SDN on Facebook and Twitter @sidneydailynews