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How cancer changed her world

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

How cancer changed her world

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DONNA MOORE is looking to change the world, or at least her section of it. This quest of hers – to have a national support group for women dealing with breast cancer – didn’t emerge overnight, but it did take place last year, after she had to wage her own battle with breast cancer. It was a battle that took a lot from her emotionally, personally, and financially, but it was one that she was determined to win.
“I couldn’t begin to think that when 2010 rolled around I was going to have to deal with something like breast cancer,” Donna said. “You think you know a lot about breast cancer, but you don’t. When you’re faced with it, it’s a different story. You’re stunned first by the news, and then you have to deal with the choices in how to deal with it.”
Donna, who didn’t have a lump, actually went to the doctor on a different matter, and ended up being referred for a mammogram. Through that mammogram, her cancer was detected. While she then had to weigh the surgery and treatment options, she was baffled and sometimes astounded by the lack of support that women faced with this disease have to endure.
“Why is it so hard to find the proper bras to wear or to find aloes to put on the areas of your body that are burned?” she asked.
“Out of that came a cry from different people to start a support group,” she said. “I lamented to my doctor, to everybody and then it got me to start the support group.”
Helping other women who were fighting this hidden foe became very important to Donna, especially after she witnessed the scores of young women suffering from breast cancer.
“Breast cancer is still not talked about, still pushed under the carpet,” Donna said. “I suppose living in a small society, we tend to hide things, but it is nothing to hide. Initially I didn’t tell anyone about it and I decided later to be open about it.”
That openness did help because Donna’s cancer occurred at a difficult time in her life. She was separated from her husband and back home with her parents. Dealing with that transition made her health situation doubly difficult. Donna said it forced her to rely on people.
“The surgery was pretty simple because you’re extracting something, and then it’s gone,” she said. “The radiation was the hardest part. You know something is being done for the good, but you don’t know what. It had me so tired, and I’m a person accustomed to moving. I did the radiation treatments only and now I’m on Tamoxifen for five years.”
Though Donna did not lose her breast – only the cancerous area was removed – she considers herself pretty lucky, especially when she sees what other, younger women have to go through.
“Most of my life I didn’t really have breasts per se. It was only when I got to 36 that I started to really get breasts, and then the cancer happened at 39. So I started to joke that I just got breasts and I’m going to lose them, but thankfully it didn’t happen,” she said. “When I think of other young ladies in their 20s who are losing their breasts, it’s hard.”
But Donna is convinced that the best way for women to deal with breast cancer is by being open
and having that support network.
“You do feel alone when you’re going through it. 
A lot of my friends are in the midst of studying so I drove myself to all of my appointments. I would get into bed and sleep after treatments because I was so tired,” she said.
“My parents were there for me, and the few friends I have were there when I needed them most. But we need a national support group for people who don’t have that support circle.”