Tri-Valley SOCKs (Stepping Out for Cancer Kures)
Nancy Cota: 2014 Walk Dedication
I’ll never forget that moment in Grand Central Station, New York when I got that life changing call from my radiologist telling me my biopsy had come back positive for Breast Cancer. How could that be true? I’m the person always working fund raisers to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer and many other diseases. My husband and I were the family that always volunteered in our community as Cub Scout leaders, 4-H Leaders, church events and led work in the schools. After having four biological children we were that family that adopted three more children from different birth moms to add to our family and raise as our very own. How could God have chosen me to be stricken with Breast Cancer? Well he did, and he must have had a good reason. I believe I am a better person for having experienced this journey and now have a greater purpose as I can help “make a difference”.
I was diagnosed with two lumps in my right breast and after careful consideration decided to move forward with a double mastectomy. It’s funny how we can allow society to influence how we see ourselves by the appearance of our breasts. I used to worry that they were sagging after 4 pregnancies and they weren’t even the same size anymore. Now I just wanted the best chance to live! Since I knew my breast tissue was able to grow cancer, I wanted the breast tissue gone and how I looked was no longer so important. I didn’t know what it would feel like, what it would look like and what the heck doctors meant about inserting expanders and doing several tissue expansions to stretch my breast muscle and remaining outer skin to prepare for implants. Who knew if they need to remove your nipples they could reconstruct them from skin from my stomach? Who could have guessed that my introduction to tattoos would be on my nipples?
During my surgery I had 10 lymph glands removed and a frozen section was sent to the lab for analysis. When I came out of surgery my diagnosis was not good. My family was told the cancer spread outside of my breast tissue and into many lymph glands and I would be facing a year of chemotherapy. It is amazing now to look back and reflect on how a diagnosis like this changes your life forever and you realize how much energy we waste in life worrying about the “small stuff”. A week later another phone call changed my life once again. My doctor informed me that the lab work from a full analysis of my breast tissue came back. The cancer had not spread through my lymph glands and the results of the frozen section taken during surgery are only 99% accurate—yes I was that in that 1%-- she told me I was that “One A Million” person where the frozen section analysis was incorrect and I would not have to have any further treatments except for medication for 5 years. The medication, of course, comes with lots & lots of side effects but as I always say, “minor details”.
At the time of our “Bras for the Cause” walk I will be celebrating my 5 year anniversary, cancer free.
My celebration is bitter sweet after having lost two very dear friends to breast cancer in the last few months. The three of us shared this journey together and even celebrated 4 years cancer free together last May. Together we recognized the need for mentors out there to help others diagnosed after us and we started a resource group at work, FOCUS (Focus on Cancer Understand and Support). We prepared women for what to expect when going through chemo, gave them real life answers about having radiation and showed them what a mastectomy looks and feels like. We rallied our friend, families and co-workers at Safeway to join our team for “Bras for the Cause” and we walked it together with passion and conviction to help others. This year I walk in their memory with a heavy heart. I know they would have done the same for me if I had gone before them, but I miss them. I have so much GRATITUDE for every day I am alive and how I have grown through this journey. I am honored to be your “honoree” this year and do so as a representative of all those that have lost their battle with this terrible disease, are currently fighting their own battle and for those us as that are thankful to be survivors. We will raise as much money as we can and we will walk for those who cannot make the walk themselves. I will do my best to be your cheerleader this year because “Together we really can make a difference”!
Nancy and her 3 daughters
Nancy and her two co-works, Kim and Cindy, who recently lost their lives to breast cancer