Faced With a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, These Women Fought Back

October 21, 2020

Receiving a cancer diagnosis invokes fear, shock and distress, and being brave in the face of cancer can be challenging. But these four warriors rallied and fought back, finding inner strength, hope, courage and determination with the support of family and friends. These are their stories.

Beverly Roberts – 68

Beverly RobertsAt the end of 2019, I had a 3D mammogram and they found a lump in my breast. I was alarmed because my sister had breast cancer. Following the mammogram, I also had an ultrasound and a biopsy. When I got the results it was cancer, the doctor gave me a choice of mastectomy or lumpectomy, and I chose the lumpectomy and radiation. My surgery was January 13, 2020, and I completed radiation treatments on March 12, 2020. The cancer center team was amazing, supporting me through the tears I shed on the first day of treatment to the ringing of the bell on day 28! They showed such love and devotion to their jobs and patients.

The hospital staff was also excellent in explaining everything to me, from the biopsy through the lumpectomy. I was treated with kindness, respect and dignity through a scary time and they made it easier for me to come in for my treatments. Your health is the most important thing you have – both mental and physical. Listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. It took a positive attitude and support of family and friends to stick to all 28 treatments! I thank God for healing me, and for the hospital and cancer center staff who helped me through it all.

Elois Kirkland – 70

Elois KirklandI came home from church and was sitting in my chair relaxing, listening to gospel music. I just happened to put my hand on my breast and I felt a lump. I did not get upset or tell anyone, but called my doctor the next day and went to get a mammogram.

At first, the tech did not see anything, but then another tech confirmed there was a mass. They sent me right over for an ultrasound. I knew it when she found it. Dr. Jill Buchanan Enter wanted me to have a biopsy and also genetic testing for the BRCA gene. The biopsy confirmed the cancer, and since I tested positive for BRCA, plus had siblings and other relatives with cancer, I opted for a double mastectomy.

My surgery was in April 2020, and they realized the cancer spread into just one of my lymph nodes, which they removed. I am now going for chemotherapy once a month, and am just getting started with radiation treatments.

I am blessed to have received my treatment at Aiken Regional. Dr. Enter and all the nurses who took care of me were angels sent by God. One nurse in particular kept checking on me after my surgery, and it turned out I had two blood clots. I went back into surgery and Dr. Enter removed them. God was so good to me, and He was working through all those who took care of me.

My advice to other women is to make sure you do your [self] breast exams and get your mammograms. I was not checking like I should have been, and I know it was the Lord who showed it to me. You have to have faith and believe you will come through it, and you will. And if you’re unsure of something health related, make sure you contact your doctor right away and get it checked out.

Nora Williams – 46

Nora WilliamsLast year while on vacation, I discovered a lump in my breast. When I got home, I saw my GYN and she sent me to the Women’s LifeCare Center for a diagnostic mammogram. The next day I had the biopsy. The moment I met Dr. Jill Buchanan Enter, I knew she would be the one to save my life. I had not had a mammogram prior to this because I had no family history of breast cancer and was the first one on both sides of the family to ever have breast cancer.

I tested positive for the ATM gene, which has over a 50 percent chance of recurrence, so I opted for a bilateral mastectomy on October 25, 2019. I had a second surgery on December 6, 2019, and Dr. Enter found more cancer cells that she removed. She saved my life twice! Following surgery, I underwent 36 rounds of radiation and have been in remission since June 11, 2020.

Every single person that took care of me, from the radiation techs to the nurses to doctors, treated me like a family member. Dr. Enter was not just my surgeon, she became my friend. Aiken Regional Medical Centers and the Cancer Care Institute of Carolina went above and beyond all my expectations. They were so caring through my entire journey and treated me with love and compassion during the hardest and scariest time of my life.

Dr. Enter and Carolyn Cook truly set the hospital apart. They have become a very special part of my life, even now as a survivor. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever known. I recommend both facilities because of the care and support I have received in the last year.

I have been very vocal in my persistence in early detection and not putting off getting a mammogram. Cancer changed me. I have learned not to take life for granted and I love harder and deeper than ever before. I learned the absolute true love of my husband, parent, siblings, and even my five children. No one has to fight alone! Cancer does not end after surgery and treatment. It is an emotional and physical battle and there are people there waiting to help!

Dr. Enter and Carolyn Cook were hugely instrumental in helping me and my three “pink sisters” get our support group, The Pink Dandelions, advertised. We started it for younger women during and after our journeys. I have met the most amazing friends through all this and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Miriam Derrick – 63

Miriam Derrick During my regular yearly GYN physical and mammogram, they found a suspicious area. I was called back for an ultrasound, and ultimately had a biopsy. The biopsy results came back, indicating a small tumor. I saw Dr. Ezekiel, a radiology oncologist, to discuss treatment. I decided on a lumpectomy and radiation treatments, then continue on medication for five years. I thought I was safe from breast cancer, so it was a shock to even receive my diagnosis.

Four weeks after my surgery, I began radiation at the Cancer Care Institute of Carolina. I finished my 25 treatments and am now on the medication. I work in Labor and Delivery at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, and have worked here for 44 years – they are like my family. I knew I would feel comfortable with all my doctors and felt like they went above and beyond to provide me with the best care. Dr. Besson was so supportive, and we prayed when she gave me the diagnosis and followed me through the surgery and treatments. On the day of surgery, my coworkers wore t-shirts that said, “TEAM MIRIAM, NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE FIGHTS ALONE.” Several of the doctors and staff came in to see me pre-op and had their shirts on as well. Dr. Enter and Dr. Frei also stopped in to pray with me before surgery. This is what sets Aiken Regional apart and why they are family.

My advice is that women get their yearly mammogram. My lump was too small to feel during monthly breast checks. The care I received was top notch, and I am so grateful for the support I received from my family, friends and my Aiken Regional family.