After going through breast cancer treatment earlier this year, Vicki Weaver, of Sedalia, is learning the importance of kindness and communication with others.
After having a 3D mammogram and a biopsy at Bothwell Regional Health Center, Weaver was diagnosed with breast cancer Nov. 21, 2018, the day before Thanksgiving.
“It’s the last thing you want to hear,” she said. “You think, ‘it’ll never happen to me.’ When it does, it’s a smack of reality.”
Weaver had surgery Dec. 14 to remove the small, slow-growing tumor in her breast. She then received radiation treatment, finishing in early March. With her diagnosis and treatment over the holidays, she said it felt like a waiting game but the “professional and caring” medical team at Bothwell helped calm her nerves at times.
“I think the first go around when I was thinking, all this big equipment shooting at this little thing and you just realize just how minuscule…” Weaver said. “That was probably reality when it really hit for me at that moment. But they were very kind and took extra care that day with talking to me.”
Through her radiation treatment, Weaver said she learned to listen to her body more. Her biggest side effect was fatigue, causing her to leave the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, where she works as the curator of education, early some days so she could sleep at home. Sundays were always designated for rest.
Since completing her treatment, Weaver has received a mammogram and blood tests that indicate she is cancer-free.
“One of my physicians said, ‘oh 20 years down the road this will just be a blip in your timeline,” she recalled. “Everyone had wonderful things to say but that one stuck with me. You hear stories of someone’s mother or friend who’s had it and well, they’re doing just fine. So you mentally choose that road.”
A Daum Museum-sponsored trip to Italy in mid-March offered Weaver a goal beyond her days of treatment. Her coworkers and friends offered support throughout her diagnosis and treatment. She said talking with other women who had experienced breast cancer and were willing to share their stories and support also helped her through the process. She said their stories gave her strength.
“It is daunting, it’s a new language,” she said. “And to take in as much as I could in my capacity for understanding the new terminology and how did it relate to me and my body. That was a learning curve.”
During her treatment, Weaver said she sometimes felt it was an out-of-body experience, something that was hard to grasp. Now, she said the thought of cancer remains in the back of her mind, but that she is stopping to look and reflect on moments in her life. She’s also more aware of the importance of kindness toward others.
Despite having breast cancer, Weaver said she feels lucky for a number of reasons: her cancer was caught early, she didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, and her treatments at Bothwell were a short drive away.
She urges women to get their yearly mammograms, as having that “information is power.” She also said it’s possible to get on the other side of a breast cancer diagnosis.
“I think that sharing needs to happen,” she said. “... to share and say, ‘yeah, I’ve been there.’ If you want to sit and talk, we’ll sit and talk.”