Survivor Stories 2014:
Cheryl Perkins (Video)
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I discovered the lump while breast feeding my youngest daughter. I can honestly say that she saved my life. I called my Dr who first felt that the lump had to be a clogged milk duct because I was just 35 and breast feeding. However, since the lump persisted and even became painful I called the Dr again who recommended a mammogram. Two weeks later I had my first and last mammogram as well as an ultrasound and biopsy all in the same day. Three days later a diagnosis of breast cancer.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
As anyone would be after hearing that news, I was in shock and horror. The news was ” a very aggressive cancer and we must act quickly”. I had to get it together and make decisions. Needless to say, I did.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
My treatment plan was chemotherapy first to attempt to see how the tumor would respond. If it shrunk we continued. If not, then the chemo would be changed. It worked so we continued for six months. Next was a bilateral mastectomy. This was by choice. They only recommend it for the side with cancer. This was followed by 6 weeks of radiation. I also had several reconstruction surgeries.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
What surprised me mostly about the treatment was how quickly my hair started to fall out. I remember wearing a hat in church and took it off once I warmed up when a huge lock of hair came off with it!
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
My advice would be to accept help from your supporters. Being strong is key to fighting this disease, but save your energy for fighting and let your friends help you cook, clean or shop. Try to rest and recharge your body and mind as often as possible.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
August 2014 marked my 10 year anniversary when I completed treatment and was declared ” no evidence of cancer.”
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
The lesson I learned was that tomorrow is not promised. Sure I’ve heard that a million times,but after someone tells you that ” you have cancer” those words take on another meaning. You feel like you need to hit the bucket list at warp speed. Slow down and smell the roses. Literally. Take time to enjoy little things like that turtle sundae!!
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
As a mother to 4 girls, I remember wondering what they would do if I were not around to help them. Just the thought of that encouraged me to fight for them. Whatever makes you want to fight for your life, focus on that. Mothers are the strongest people in the world. There are many things you have done that you didn’t think you could do, but look at where you are now. You are a survivor!!!
Cheryl Perkins is a registered nurse and mother of four from Detroit, Michigan who recently celebrated 10 years of being cancer free! On October 2nd, she performed in Dancing with the Survivors in Bloomfield Hills, MI, a fundraising gala held in 20 cities nationwide. Dancing with the Survivors features breast cancer survivors paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios for an evening of music, cocktails, food and ballroom dance. All proceeds benefit The Pink Fund, a national organization that provides individuals in active treatment for breast cancer with up to 90 days of financial assistance to cover non-medical expenses, such as health insurance premiums, housing, transportation and utilities.
Donations for Dancing with the Survivors will be accepted through October 31st, 2014. To support Cheryl, click here.