Cancer diagnosis gives mom a renewed perspective
When Karen Call was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2014, the mother of three says she immediately called her husband, Dan. He became very quiet after listening to his wife say two words that no one wants to hear, “It’s cancer.”
Call says she talked to her doctors about treatment options and scheduling her surgery, but she didn’t tell anyone else about her cancer diagnosis.
Call says she didn’t tell her parents until four or five days before her surgery to remove the cancer “because I didn’t want them to worry. But we (she and Dan) figured we needed to go ahead and tell them because if something happened (the cancer spread) we didn’t want to surprise them with it.”
Call didn’t tell her children, Austin, Chelsea and Laine, until the night before her lumpectomy because she didn’t want to worry them. Because when she was told, “It’s cancer,” she didn’t wonder, “Why me?” Instead she asked herself, “Why my kids?”
Call says she reassured her children that her doctors had caught the cancer early, and they handled the news “pretty well.”
It became tougher for them when their mother was going through radiation treatments and they had to face the reality of a cancer diagnosis in the family. Fortunately, their mom’s cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, and she didn’t need chemotherapy.
Still, enduring 25 rounds of radiation were “extremely intense” for Call and her family, she says.
Now a three-and-a-half-year survivor, Call says no one is ever truly cancer-free. “Once you have it,” she explains, “you always fight it.” So she goes to her oncologist regularly – from every three months to now going every six months.
Call says she only recently started telling her friends – her good friends – that she’s a breast cancer survivor. It was finally time to move on. She was ready to move on when she faced another health scare – in another part of her body – a year and a half ago.
Fortunately, she’s doing fine today after overcoming that scare.
As to why she didn’t tell her closest friends about her cancer diagnosis, Call says she couldn’t answer her own questions or process what was happening to her.
Call says she exercised, ate healthy and didn’t smoke so she didn’t understand why she “still got cancer” and she couldn’t answer those unanswered questions.
“I’m okay with it now. I’ve processed it. I’ve dealt with it. I’ve coped with it. I’ve survived. So I can talk about it now,” says Call, a graduate of Woodford County High School, who grew up here.
When Call shares her experience as a cancer survivor with other families at next Monday night’s Love Lights A Tree program at Versailles Presbyterian Church (130 North Main Street), she wants those facing cancer to know that it’s alright to be private about their diagnosis. She will also urge other women to get regular mammograms because “it is so important.”
“You can have nothing the year before, and the next year it can be there,” says Call, whose doctor spotted something on her annual mammogram. It led to an early diagnosis and a good outcome – and helps remind her about what’s really important in life.
“I’m here. I get to see my kids every day. So I’m going to smile about it,” Call says.