I’m a Breast Cancer Survivor: Rhonda Walker
On December 18, 2008, I was out to dinner with friends and family at Baldini’s Casino when the surgeon called me at 6:12 pm. I had just ordered my dinner. After the call, I went back to the table quietly sobbing. I don’t remember much after that except trying to eat my salad through my tears. Everyone at my table was very supportive through dinner and ever since.
I had never did self-breast exams even though my grandmother died from breast cancer. One morning, getting out of the shower, I noticed my nipple was inverted. By that time, the mass was over 4 centimeters! I would emphasize to women to know their bodies and be breast self-aware. Breast cancer is so treatable now and is NOT the shattering news that it once was.
I want to say I breezed right through my treatment. I only missed 11 days of work and went through chemo sessions every other week. After chemo, I went to radiation every morning before work. What I remember about radiation was having 3 “dots” tattooed on my chest so they could line up the laser and hearing the Beatles playing every morning when I laid down in the machine.
Susan G. Komen of Northern Nevada helped in many ways. They referred me to the Renown Hospital Breast Cancer Support Group, which encouraged cross talk, answered embarrassing questions and made me feel empowered. Many fellow survivors have become true friends. SGK referred me to cancer centers for information, stores for mastectomy bras and prostheses and to a beauty salon that specialized in shaving heads and finding wigs.
At the Team Captain Kick-Off Party for the Race For The Cure one of the Board members men-tioned that I might be a good fit for Education Committee. I agreed and spent three years on the Board, moving from Education to Secretary then to Fundraising. I ended up resigning in 2012, but I still maintain a favorable relationship with the Board and look forward to being involved in the race every year.
I finished my treatment on September 4, 2009. My hair was just starting to grow back. Life was getting better and I was feeling better, but I had more challenges to overcome. On December 21, 2009, I received a phone call from my brother saying our mom had been brutally murdered. To say 2009 was the worst year of my life would not be an exaggeration. My mom’s killer was later found and sentenced to life without parole. I couldn’t believe it all happened just after I finished breast cancer treatment and three days before Christmas. My survivor story is not the typical breast cancer story, but like all survivors I simply carry on—I have to.
Story by Pypeline Editing
Photo Caption: Rhonda Walker and her mom.