Cancer survivor shares story of hope
As we approach Emery County's Relay for Life, we continue to offer tribute to those who have faced cancer, fought the battle, and survived. We hold dear the memory of the courageous warriors who fought the good fight to the end. We carry their spirit and dreams forward into the battle to bring honor to their families.
This week we examine one of life's oldest professions as a byproduct of cancer - teaching. Teaching has been a vital aspect of human evolution. Since the beginning of mankind, we have taught and been taught. For babes-in-arms, we teach that a cry will provoke a needed response; to our children we teach the ways of the family. We continue to try to teach teens to recall the lessons they learned of right and wrong. In some way, to someone, somewhere, every one of us has been a teacher. Fay Franklin, a seven-year survivor of breast cancer has become a teacher in a big way. It may not have been something she dreamed of becoming as a little girl, but in her efforts to help change the potential reality for women in her life, she teaches almost daily.
Fay and her husband, James, moved to Huntington from New Mexico in July of 2002. Fay has always promoted the value of self-care and to that end, was dedicated to self-breast exams. Fay was being treated for postmenopausal symptoms with hormone replacement therapy, (estrogen). She and James were married only six years when she discovered a small lump during one of her exams.
Four months would pass without telling anyone for fear of what it may be. In the spring of 2003, Fay told James and went for a mammogram. The lump did not appear on the test. Fay was positive she felt something. After being told the mammogram was negative, she consulted her doctor. The doctor acknowledged the presence of a lump; an ultrasound confirmed the existence of not one, but two lumps. Biopsy provided the malignant diagnosis and the disconcerting fact that her cancer was estrogen-based.
One week later Fay had a total mastectomy. Analysis of the lymph nodes that were removed proved the cancer was caught early. With the surgery alone, Fay was given a 93 percent of not contracting cancer in the other breast. Fay opted not to supplement her surgery with any other treatments or medications. She continues to be diligent with self-breast exams and her annual check-ups.
As cancer does not seem to run in Fay's family, she teaches women in her circle of life not to feel false security because of that, but, to always take care of themselves and do self-breast exams. Fay's fears of facing cancer were minimized by her solid marriage and supportive husband and mother.
While Fay triumphed over the cancer, she suffered a devastating blow exactly one month after her surgery when her mother suffered a serious stroke. Fay's role was instantly reversed to giving care rather than receiving care.
As Fay was forced to look at life from this new perspective, she discovered how much she had learned about cancer and living. Fay has shared her knowledge and support with many women in her workplace and community. She gives frequent reminders to the women she works with at the Huntington power plant to do their own exams.
She has developed bonds through the breast cancer walk in Salt Lake City with her daughter and Relay for Life here. These proactive steps have provided an arena to channel her energy into.
Fay understands that women often struggle with self-image and as a direct result of that, self-esteem when breast cancer drops in. She explained that she feels maintaining a positive attitude and praying a lot was half the battle. Her experience with cancer has allowed her to help educate and support other women and endorse the real need for self-breast exams by telling others what she has been through. Fay may not find herself in a classroom, but she carries the responsibility to teach with pride.