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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 11 Years after Diagnosis, Patient Still Fighting Strong

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“I got the phone call and I was like OK, OK, it’s cancer…OK,” Joyce Cooke said. 

Joyce Cooke recalls the moment she was diagnosed with breast cancer…That phone call was followed up by a series of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, and for about 4 years things seemed to be going okay. 

“I happened to turn just right at work and I felt a little crack in my hip or pain in my hip or something and I thought that’s not going to be good and went and had a biopsy and they did a bone marrow test and I had a large tumor in my hip,” Cooke said. 

Joyce’s cancer had spread. Now, in multiple bones throughout her body, she maintains her cancer with an oral chemo pill and infusion treatments every 3 weeks. 

“Everyday, everyday it’s in your mind at least for me I haven’t found a way around that yet. Everyday you’re like when’s the next shoe going to fall, every time I get tests or scans or whatever it’s like OK, is there going to be anything new and I’m very aware of any little ache or pain in my body,” Cooke said. 

Joyce is also aware that although her cancer is now stage 4,things could be worse.

“Thinking about when I’m gone, those things plague you and I have my crying moments and stuff and sob myself to sleep or whatever and I’m not working right now I’m home alone a lot and it gets your mind going, takes you to places you don’t want to go but I start painting rocks or something, trying to be creative,” Cooke said. 

After so many years of fighting, Joyce counts everyday as a blessing. 

“It’s been 11 years and I don’t know how many more I have, maybe I’ll have another 11 or so that would be great as long as we can keep maintaining,” Cooke said. 

Throughout her 11 years as a breast cancer patient, Joyce says the doctors and staff at Guthrie have given her the hope she needs to keep fighting. 

“Guthrie was really good and supportive for me right there all the way through it, they were very caring all the staff and nurses there and even the receptionist, everybody was just so compassionate they were very caring and loving. You felt like you were going to be taken care of,” Cooke said. 

As she continues her fight, Joyce says she looks forward to what the next 11 years will bring. 

“I’m excited to see what path my son will take, where he’s going to be. I’m excited to see my grandkids grow, I don’t see them nearly enough. I’m excited to see a relationship with my husband even grow more, it’s been 25 years this year so that’s a big deal,” Cooke said. 

You’ll hear more from Joyce throughout the month of October, as we join her for appointments and meet the doctors that work to help treat her. And in the next edition of our Breast Cancer Awareness series, we’ll have more on how new detection technologies are saving the lives of more women with breast cancer than ever before. We’ll have one local woman’s inspiring story, in the next segment. 

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