On Jan. 24, Lilly M. Vickers was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I did not have any symptoms,” she recalls. “It was discovered during my annual mammogram screening in September 2012. I was told a second screening was needed, followed by a sonogram and biopsy. After visiting my primary-care physician for the results of the screenings and sonogram, I was asked to see a general surgeon, who informed me I had breast cancer.”
The news shocked her family. “My children wanted to know if I was going to die.”
Vickers chose to have a lumpectomy, bi-lateral breast reduction, radiation and hormone treatment. “After further tests were performed,” she recalls, “my course of treatment changed to chemotherapy and radiation after breast surgery.”
She describes the care she received from Holy Cross Hospital as top-rate.
“I was updated on all decisions concerning my treatment. I also received follow-up calls from both oncology nurses to ensure I was feeling OK,” Vickers says. “All three of my doctors are very knowledgeable, and they take time to answer any questions or concerns I have.
“The staff and employees are all experts in their area of responsibility, and truly genuinely care about their patients. The best and most important part of the treatment I received at Holy Cross is the team approach they take with each cancer patient.”
Although her family didn’t know what to say at first, Vickers says her family and friends “were very supportive and volunteered to help in whatever way I needed. They went with me to my doctor appointments, cooked and cleaned my house and visited me often to make sure I was OK.”
During her treatment, Vickers says she learned how strong her faith is. “The only way I made it through was believing the words in the Bible.”
Besides praying and reading the Bible daily, she kept her spirits up by reading books and magazines, taking hot milk baths and walking around the house “to try and keep my mind occupied.”
Because of this experience, she says, “I am more willing to give of myself and my time to help make life a little easier for cancer patients. I plan to volunteer at two hospitals when I complete my radiation treatments.”
Her new outlook is “to spend more time with my family, tell my story whenever I have the opportunity and to live life to the fullest.”
Vickers also plans to volunteer her time and talents to the American Cancer Society.
For someone recently diagnosed with or currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, she recommends seeking help from an oncology team and making sure there is a team approach by the doctors.
“Don’t go to one doctor for surgery and to another location for another treatment,” Vickers says.
“Also, it is important to have an annual mammogram. Do your own breast self exam. Each person is different; research the best treatment for your type of cancer, and always understand why you are undergoing the treatment your doctor prescribes.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun