CHATTAROY — Losing her mother to breast cancer still didn’t open Janee Scott’s eyes to the risks of her getting breast cancer too.
Scott graduated from Williamson High School in 1981. She is a 52 year old woman from Chattaroy who acts and appears to be just like any other woman her age. She is continuously on the go and works her job as a supervisor at the Department of Health and Human Resources office in Williamson just as if nothing were ever wrong.
Her parents separated when she was only a child and she was raised by her mother.
“My mother was everything to me,” said Scott.
Scott’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984 after her family finally convinced her to get herself examined. She had been hiding the fact that she had a lump in her breast for over a year before she ever told anyone. She had a mastectomy done on only the one breast that showed positive for cancer and followed up with chemo and radiation.
Because Scott’s mother kept the lump secret, it sat in her body for so long that it had already spread into her bones and other parts of her body. The only thing left to do for her was to keep her comfortable until she passed on.
Scott said that she really never sat and thought about getting breast cancer herself but she wishes now that she would have been more aware of the consequences of not being examined as often as she should have.
“I am so ashamed of myself for not getting mammograms like I should have. I knew that’s how my mother died, from breast cancer,” Scott stated. “I should have taken the necessary precautions because it happened to me too.”
Scott had an appointment for a mammogram in September of 2011, but she kept putting it off , over and over again. She said she doesn’t really know what made her decision, but she was going to Charleston for a weekend and decided she would go ahead and have the test to get it over with.
“I went that weekend and got my mammogram and spent the rest of the weekend having fun in Charleston,” said Scott. “But on that Tuesday I received a phone call telling me that I need to go back to the hospital to have an ultrasound.”
Scott said it was nothing out of the ordinary for them to call her after a mammogram to go back for an ultrasound. It had happened several times before and everything always ended up being clear.
“This time was different though, they were kind of pushy and wanted me there in a hurry,” added Scott.
She went that day for the ultrasound and went back home to continue her life. However, that Thursday she received another phone call from the hospital telling her that they had an appointment for her to have a biopsy done. By Monday she received a call telling her that the biopsy was positive for cancer in her left breast but it showed negative in the right breast.
“I then had to go to an appointment with the surgeon to discuss what my options were. He asked if I wanted to just do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy and at first I just decided to do the mastectomy on the left breast,” said Scott. “The more I thought about the possibility of the cancer coming back, the more I leaned toward just going with a double mastectomy, even though it showed negative in my right breast.”
Scott said she couldn’t imagine having to go through the same thing possibly a year or so later. She said she felt as though she might as well go ahead and have both breasts removed and later have reconstructive surgery.
Only one week after her surgery her doctor called her and informed her that he had the tissue from the right breast sent of for further testing for a second opinion. The test results came back positive for cancer in her right breast as well, even though the mammogram screening showed negative.
“My doctor said he knew it was a good decision that I had made to have both breasts removed,” said Scott. “I had to go through another procedure after that, I had to have a lymph-node removed, which was also on my right side where the cancer was originally negative.”
Because the cancer was in one of her lymph-nodes, Scott had to undergo chemo and radiation.
Her doctor told her that she would be off work for at least six weeks to recover from the surgery but she could continue working through her other treatments. This didn’t sit will with Scott, as she is a worker and a go-getter. She said she isn’t the type of person that could just sit home. She said she was climbing the walls. She insisted that her doctor let her go back to work in two weeks.
“I developed a blot clot in my left leg after my surgery, which put me off work longer than I expected. I did only agree with being off for two weeks,” stated Scott. “I ended up being off work for four weeks but the doctor wanted me off for two more. I insisted on him signing the papers for me to go on back to work, and he did. Thank God he let me go on back to work because I couldn’t have made it through this without my co-workers, family and friends.”
Scott said it takes an entire community to help someone get through the battle of cancer. If not for her boyfriend, who never left her side, her family and friends, she said she would have never made it.
“It’s a horrible experience to go through cancer but people like the ones in my life made it bearable,” added Scott. “You have to have a good support system.”
“I believe that my battle with cancer was meant to be. It’s something that God had in store for me for whatever reason,” Scott said. “The only thing that I asked of God was that he hold my hand and walk with me through this. I asked him repeatedly to just hold my hand, hold my hand, hold my hand,” cried Scott.
She said that before her surgery, while she was having her biopsy done she had to raise her arm on the side the doctor was sticking her with needles. Before the first needle stick she heard a voice behind her say, “My name is Tracy and I’m here to hold your hand.
“Each time the doctor stuck me with the needle, which was numerous times on each side, I felt Tracy clenching my hand. I couldn’t see her because she was at the top of my head where I had to hold my arm,” Scott said. “After the procedure was finished, the doctor left the room and nurses told me I was all good to go. I asked them to thank Tracy for holding my hand and they looked at me like I was crazy.”
There was never a Tracy there, not that anyone knew or could see.
“That was God, he heard me asking him over and over to hold my hand and he sent Tracy there to be with me, to hold my hand and help him help me through it,” Scott stated with tear filled eyes.
She said that going through the cancer battle has made her appreciate her friends and family so much more. She said she has always appreciated them but she appreciates them so much more now for the love and support they showed her and are still showing her. She said she also realized her boyfriend is definitely a keeper.
“He stayed right by my side through it all. If he had to leave to do something he would always make sure that someone else was there with me,” said Scott. “He took me to all my appointments and would sit for endless hours in hospitals waiting for my treatments to be done. I don’t know how he did it but I appreciate and love him so much for it.”
There was one special lady that Scott doesn’t know who was a ray of hope for her. She saw her at the Steakhouse in South Williamson but has never been able to lay eyes on her again.
“My friend and I were there having dinner when a lady came to me and asked me if she could give me a gift, this was during the time that I had lost all my hair and just looked so sick. I accepted and she reached me a box. I turned to my friend who told me to open it, then turned back around and the lady was gone,” said Scott. “She had given me and Oragami Owl necklace with the breast cancer awareness ribbon inside. I cried like a baby! I didn’t get her name, I didn’t know her and I didn’t even get to give her a hug.”
Scott said that the one thing she wishes is to find that lady so she can give her a hug and thank her for the gift that she holds so close to her heart.
the Tug Valley Relay for Life will hold its annual event Friday evening, June 19 at Lefty Hamilton Park in Williamson. Scott participates each year now. She said that seeing all the survivors gives her hope. She is a three year breast cancer survivor and says that it blesses her to see the survivors of 10-15 years. She said that she wasn’t able to participate her first year but she does it every year now even though it’s a very emotional time for her.
“I always look forward to this time of year. It’s really a beautiful sight to see the Lumineria when all the lights go out. It’s so very emotional and beautiful at the same time,” stated Scott.
Scott said that there is so much that she could say to advise other women but the most important thing is to not put off screenings.
“If I have any advise for anyone I want to let women know how important it is to get their mammograms on time. Don’t put it off, especially if you have had family members that have been diagnosed,” added Scott. “If you miss your appointment, do not wait for eight months to reschedule it!”