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Wed, Oct. 23

Cancer survivors say positive attitude, having fun helped them recover

Chino Valley Review

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. With increasing awareness of the most common cancer in women, Americans raise many millions of dollars each year to advance the fight against breast cancer. More and more women are winning their battles with cancer, and Jean Head and Rosalie James are two local women who beat the dreaded disease.

Jean Head

Jean Head has been cancer-free for three years. After having a mammogram in 2002, doctors told her they found a spot in her breast that looked suspicious.

"I thought it was nothing, because in past years the technicians had always said it was nothing," said Jean. "The doctor and I were both shocked to find out it was cancer because he didn't think it was anything either."

Jean's doctor performed a lumpectomy on her and found out the cancer had went into the lymph nodes too, so she had to have chemo therapy for four months, and then radiation everyday for seven weeks.

"After about seven months of treatment, I was through. I was put on a pill that I take everyday for five years," Jean explained.

While she was in treatment, she started losing her hair, like many women do. Jean decided to make hair loss humorous.

"In between treatments my hair would grow about three-quarters of an inch, so I decided to have fun and I had it dyed weird colors like fushia, blue or green. Something I would never normally do, but I knew it was going to fall out after the next treatment, so why not," she grinned.

"You've got to try to enjoy little bits along the way."

Rosalie James

Rosalie James of Chino Valley discovered she had breast cancer in 1988 when she found a lump under her arm. Within a few days Rosalie went into the hospital for a biopsy with the understanding that if the doctor found cancer, they would remove the breast, which is exactly what happened.

"It wasn't a real shock to me about the breast surgery, because I just felt it was going to happen," Rosalie said.

Rosalie was only in the hospital two days. She had six months of chemotherapy but no radiation treatments. She also took physical therapy treatments to help get the use of her left arm back after surgery.

"I was very lucky, as I didn't lose any of my hair during chemo," Rosalie said. "The worse part for me was feeling tired and weak."

Rosalie's advice to others facing breast cancer is to think positive, and think about other things. She is living proof that women can beat cancer and that they can recover to live a full, happy life.

"I knew when I went into the hospital that it was going to be cancer. But I also thought when it's over, it's going to be over and it was, as I've been cancer free for 18 years."

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