In the final installment of our month long breast cancer awareness series, Samantha Lantz sits down with patients who talk to her about what they say is the hardest part about life after cancer. 

“Every time I get tests done or whatever, it’s like OK is there going to be anything new there and I’m very aware of any little ache or pain in my body,” Joyce Cooke, a breast cancer patient said. 

Breast cancer patients share their stories of life after diagnosis.

“It’s been 11 years 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 maintain,” Cooke said. 

Joyce Cooke has been through it all. Since her diagnosis 11 years ago, her cancer has spread to stage 4. She’s had multiple surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and infusion. But the hardest part?

“Thinking about when I’m gone those things plague you and I have my crying moments and sob myself to sleep or whatever. Again, if you flash to the grand kids and your flash to your son, your daughter is married you flash to those things and wonder what you’re going to miss out on, what won’t I be there for, they’re not even going to know me,” Cooke said,” Cooke said.  

Margaret’s story is just beginning. She was diagnosed with stage one cancer a few months ago. 

“I’m through the surgery I’m healed and feeling better and I’m back to work and then now I have this other thing on the horizon but I don’t know how it’s going to affect me nobody does, you can read all the books and understand what to expect and whether it’ll happen to you, you don’t know,” Margaret Zimmer said. 

Margaret is now currently undergoing radiation and while she hopes this will stop her cancer from coming back, she knows it will be something she has to deal with for the rest of her life. 

“This is a lifelong thing I may be cured of cancer at that point but I’m going to be on medication for years so it’s something that is going to continue and obviously something I’m going to have to keep a very close watch on it,” Zimmer said.
These women are now using their own experiences with breast cancer to encourage others to be proactive. 

“It’s for my daughter, and my granddaughters, my nieces, it’s not about me anymore my story is already in the works now. It’s about everybody out there, to get that message out about how important those mammograms and early detection are,” Zimmer said.

“It’s going to pinch a little bit it might hurt a little bit but in the long run there’s far greater hurts along the way if you’re not paying attention and if you don’t allow yourself to go do it. Put your modesty aside and don’t be nervous about it you’ll get the answer yes or no. You just have to do it, you have to. There’s nobody left unaffected by cancer,” Cooke said.