Breast Cancer Awareness Month: This Year It’s Personal

Posted October 9, 2016


“You have cancer.” She was in the car driving when the doctor called with the news. She had the mammogram that morning and by noon they had made an appointment for her to meet with a surgeon. At first, she didn’t cry. It wasn’t until she made it to her destination, a visit with her father, that the tears came.

hippie-chickLisa Crigler, our dear friend and one of our opticians from our Salem office, is currently battling triple negative breast cancer. The cancer is present in her right breast and two surrounding lymph nodes. She will undergo a total of 6 rounds of chemotherapy (she is half way done!) and then will have surgery at the conclusion of her chemo.

In the middle of chemotherapy and battling breast cancer you may assume that breast cancer is all consuming of Lisa’s life. You’d be wrong. Lisa knows that cancer can’t steal her joy. Lisa knows that cancer can’t steal her love for her family. Lisa knows that cancer can’t crush her spirit. She is a mother to four and grandmother to ten sweet grandchildren. She has too much to live for to let cancer slow her down. Sure, the weeks that she has chemo she needs more rest as she recovers from the side effects of treatments. However, as soon as she feels better she is back to enjoying her grandchildren and back in our Salem office serving our patients.

Our patients have shown Lisa a beautiful outpouring of love and support through this whirlwind journey that began in August. Some of you have brought her scarves. Others have sent her notes letting her know you are actively praying for her healing. There are also those that have shared stories of their experience with breast cancer. This support has given Lisa emotional strength when she needs it most. This love is what will lift her up on the days that she is tired and physically feeling at her worst. We have said it before and mean it wholeheartedly; we truly have the best and most kind-hearted patients.

You need to know something about Lisa; she is a warrior both physically and in spirit. She is in the middle of chemotherapy treatments and has the strength to share her story with us, and with our patients, in hopes of encouraging others and reminding women of the importance of yearly checks and early detection. When asked what she wants to make sure women know, this is what she had to say:

Women need to take care of themselves. They need to do self exams at home. They need to go in for routine exams.  Don’t let it go—make the appointment! Also, pay the extra money for the 3D mammogram so they can see much better.

The type of breast cancer Lisa was diagnosed with is difficult to detect with traditional mammograms. She attributes the detection of her breast cancer to the fact that she opted for the digital mammogram. Lisa has no family history of breast cancer and has tested negative for the BRACA gene mutation. She implores women not to assume cancer won’t happen to them and be active in their health. You have heard it before but it is true: early detection saves lives. If you are overdue for a mammogram please call and make an appointment now both for you but also to honor Lisa.

It would make sense if Lisa were bitter about her diagnosis. It would make sense if she resented this journey she is on. Rather, she simply says, “why not me? So many people have cancer, I’m not exempt from it.” She is also poised to fight and owns the fact that she is strong both physically and in spirit. She finds comfort knowing this situation is not in her hands. Lisa said, “It’s in God’s control. It’s amazing who God has put in my path and how he has placed people in my life that are there to support me.” In addition to finding her comfort and strength in her faith she also draws strength from the love and support from her children, grandchildren, family, friends, and patients.

We love Lisa dearly and know many of you do as well. Please continue to join us in supporting her on with prayers, happy thoughts, and encouraging words. Please also honor her story by taking the steps necessary to preventively assess your own health.

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