Fighting breast cancer with willpower,
faith and a positive attitude
Cheryl Burg thought she had all bases covered. Even though there were no incidences of breast cancer in her family, she faithfully did breast self-exams and had annual checkups and mammograms. But Burg, age 52, had dense breast tissue which made lump detection difficult. Her Stage 2 breast cancer wasn't discovered until her annual mammogram in July 2010.
Burg and her husband met with breast surgeon S. Chase Lottich, M.D., oncologist Hemachandra Venkatesh, M.D., and the nurse navigator the same day she was diagnosed. "They wanted to get right on it," Burg says. "They didn't waste any time. That was awesome."
It was a lot to take in. "I was very upset that first day," Burg says. "But I have a strong will. I said, 'okay, I need to get down to business and get myself cured. I'm going to beat this.' So that's what I did."
Burg's treatment plan consisted of four rounds of chemotherapy prior to her lumpectomy, breast reconstruction on both breasts and radiation. She began chemotherapy in August with help from her own personal support team. "My whole family was wonderful throughout it all, especially my husband," she says. "He was just great." Burg was lucky in another way—she didn't suffer any ill effects from the chemotherapy and worked the whole time she was undergoing the treatments.
Her lumpectomy and breast reconstruction was performed December 6, 2010, at Community's Indiana Surgery Center South. The lumpectomy revealed the affected area was larger than anticipated, so four additional rounds of chemotherapy were added to her plan. Burg took those and the 33 rounds of radiation, which she did concurrently, like a trooper. "I just had a really good feeling that everything was going to be okay," she says.
Burg has words of praise for everyone at Community who helped her along her journey. "I can't say enough about those doctors," she says. "Everyone was wonderful—all the nurses; Sharon, my nurse navigator; the monthly women's group. And I loved the gals who did the radiation!"
She completed her radiation treatments in February, and her last chemotherapy treatment was in April 2011. Her arms swelled from the radiation treatments, but after four weeks of physical therapy she says they were "fine." Best of all, her follow-up mammogram in July was a success—no sign of cancer.
Her advice to others who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer is simple: "Keep the faith. Do what they tell you to do, and you'll get through it."