Thanks to a team of doctors, nurses, family and friends, Cheryl Close completed her breast cancer treatment in August and she is encouraging other breast cancer patients to find their own support system.
Close, of Warsaw, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May during a mammogram that she finally decided to schedule after putting it off for three years. Her cancer was not indicated by a lump in the breast but rather within a tube in the breast that, fortunately, hadn’t broken out yet.
“I was in shock,” she said of hearing her diagnosis. “At first you think, we’re going to get through this. Then there were moments where I was really scared and wanted to cry; I did that a lot. I was fortunate to not have chemotherapy or a mastectomy, praise the Lord for that.”
She had a lumpectomy, a biopsy to check that the cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes, and four weeks of radiation. With help from her husband, daughter, friend and sister-in-law, Close made the daily trip from Warsaw to Sedalia for her radiation treatments. Close works in the kitchen at Warsaw Elementary, a part-time, post-retirement job that has turned into a full-time gig. Once classes started in August, she was traveling to Bothwell each day after school.
Close received her last dose Aug. 22, which she said brought a sense of relief.
“I don’t feel any different, just very blessed because I had so much support,” she said. “When I go back in January I’m praying it’s all gone.”
While her treatment is complete, Close isn’t completely out of the woods yet. She still has another mammogram in December followed by an appointment with her oncologist in January. She’ll find out at that appointment if her treatment was successful.
Her husband, Terry, said the waiting is the worst part. Close agreed, saying that having cancer is always in the back of her mind.
“Any time you hear a relative that has it and you go through it … Cancer is something you’ve got to watch it. It’s scary to me,” he said, noting their niece recently had cancer and his brother died of melanoma at age 46.
The couple retired to the Warsaw area in 2000 after living in Kansas City, Kansas. They have two children and three grandchildren. They used to square dance and still try to do things like fish, play golf and go bowling. Now that treatment is over, Close said things are back to normal.
Through support from family and church friends, Close said they made it through her diagnosis and treatment.
“The church helped a lot. I didn’t tell a whole lot of people, there was just a select few,” Close said. “But those people I told are our friends, and of course our pastor. A lot of people were praying for me and I do believe in the power of prayer. And my husband, he was my biggest support.”
Close said other cancer patients should find their own support group to help them through the journey. She also suggested talking to another woman who has gone through breast cancer. She noted that the process is different for everyone, but having a sounding board can be helpful.
“Let your family and your faith get you through it,” she advised. “A good support system is really, I think, very important for women to know there are people there they can rely on. Because it is scary, there’s no doubt about it.”