a sur­vivor’s story A faith­ful jour­ney through can­cer

The Covington News - - Local - HAY­LEY WIL­LIAMS news@cov­news.com

Stephanie Lunt, a 37-year-old mother and wife, was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer in July 2010. She was 34 years old and com­pletely taken aback by her di­ag­no­sis, as there had been no his­tory of breast can­cer in her fam­ily at all.

“It was com­pletely un­ex­pected. I had no his­tory, did no self ex­ams; I wasn’t even think­ing of look­ing for any­thing. When I found the lump, the doc­tor said it was prob­a­bly noth­ing, but sent me to get tests done any­way. Af­ter that, it was kind of a whirl­wind,” Lunt said.

Lunt seemed to have a very com­mon re­ac­tion to the news of her di­ag­no­sis.

“I was in shock,” she said. “When I told peo­ple, it’s al­most like I was talk­ing about some­one else. It hadn’t com­pletely reg­is­tered that it was me.” She said the hard­est per­son to tell was her daugh­ter, who was 8 years old at the time.

“From day one, I got a good plan to­gether with my doc­tors and took ev­ery­thing head on. I wanted to know about ev­ery­thing: my di­ag­no­sis, my pro­ce­dures, my re­cov­ery, ev­ery­thing,” Lunt said. She pro­ceeded to un­dergo a dou­ble mastectomy in Au­gust, fol­lowed by 16 rounds of chemo­ther­apy and the drug Her­ceptin which she fin­ished tak­ing last De­cem­ber.

Lunt said that she had no choice but to have a mastectomy on one side of her breasts, be­cause the can­cer was so spread out and had got­ten into her lymph nodes. “I didn’t want to be in this same sit­u­a­tion 10 years from now, so I was be­ing proac­tive and went ahead and got them both done.”

Lunt had an ex­cel­lent sup­port sys­tem dur­ing her jour­ney. Her fam­ily was a large part of stay­ing strong while on the road to re­cov­ery. “My par­ents live in Sa­van­nah, and ev­ery time I had chemo, they would come stay with me. There was also my sis­ter who lives in Tampa, and she came and spent three weeks with me af­ter my first surgery, which took the long­est to re­cover from.”

Lunt said her church was an­other big part of her sup­port sys­tem. She had al­ready been go­ing to Eastridge for about nine years prior to be­ing di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer. “I re­ally don’t have fam­ily around here, but be­tween my friends and church fam­ily, we were taken care of.”

Lunt also re­lied heav­ily on her hus­band Jake, for sup­port. She said she could not have gone through this dif­fi­cult time with­out him.

“He was by my side through the en­tire jour­ney and we are ex­cited that we were able to just cel­e­brate our 16th wed­ding an­niver­sary,” Lunt said.

Since her re­cov­ery, Lunt works part time for the Chil­dren’s Min­istry at Eastridge, and has be­come very in­volved with the New­ton Med­i­cal Hope Bou­tique in the Women’s Di­ag­nos­tic Cen­ter at New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter. The pro­gram is en­tirely run by vol­un­teers, who are all breast can­cer sur­vivors. Lunt and the other vol­un­teers talk to women who have just been di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer, sit with them dur­ing chemo, and of­fer any other type of sup­port that they can.

The pro­gram raises money, all of which goes to cur­rent breast can­cer pa­tients: pro­vid­ing them with wigs, blan­kets for chemo, head scarves, help books, and any­thing else they might need. “We just let them know they’re not alone, and that there is a light at the end of the tun­nel. It’s a hard jour­ney, but ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be OK.”

“Ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened has changed me be­cause be­fore then, I had never vol­un­teered for any­thing like that. We all learned through our ex­pe­ri­ence that it isn’t just you that can­cer af­fects. Breast can­cer af­fects your whole fam­ily, your friends, ev­ery­body. Who­ever we need to be there for, we’re there for,” Lunt said.

Lunt now feels very strongly about women be­ing proac­tive with their check ups.

“Mam­mo­grams and check ups are im­por­tant,” she said. “Women know their bod­ies bet­ter than any­one else, and they have to be the big­gest ad­vo­cate. If you think some­thing’s not right, you need to get it checked. Fam­ily his­tory does not mat­ter.”

Stephanie Lunt with her daugh­ter and hus­band on va­ca­tion.

Lunt

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.