“I know, no matter what, I will continue to be a survivor.”
Lorraine Ferguson is a 19-year survivor of stage four breast cancer. Her battle with the disease began in 1994 after a visit to her gynecologist. As she underwent a mastectomy, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to a significant number of lymph nodes.
“I was faced with somewhat of a dilemma regarding my next course of action,” said Ferguson. “My oncologist, Dr. Vogel, wanted me to seek other opinions regarding treatment. He wanted me to feel comfortable with my decision.” Her consultation with two other oncologists resulted in two completely different options for treatment – bone marrow or stem cell transplants. “At the insistence of one of them, I made a visit to Duke University to investigate their bone marrow transplant program,” she said. “Further testing at Duke revealed a small amount of cancer in the bone marrow. This precluded me from being considered for their clinical trial. I actually felt the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I did not have to face that horrifying decision. God had made it for me, and it was in His hands.”
At the time of Ferguson’s diagnosis, the youngest of her three children was four-years-old. “There was a considerable age difference between her and my two teenagers,” she said. “I made up my mind that cancer was not going to stop me! I was determined to give her everything that I gave my other two. In a way she was my elixir for recovery. I cherished every moment with her.”
After undergoing her first chemotherapy treatment, Ferguson lost almost all of her hair overnight. “I knew my hair would fall out, so I ordered a wig and bought a few turbans. I emerged from the shower with my hair matted like a rug! I had no choice but to chop it off, put on my red turban and out the door I went.”
Throughout her treatment, Ferguson turned to family and music for positivity. “Music has been my salvation,” she said. “My advice to anyone going through breast cancer treatment is to stay POSITIVE. Enjoy life and don’t dwell on the cancer. If you are able, and with your doctor’s approval, take time to exercise, walk, meditate. There are so many new and developing therapies – the possibilities for success are endless.”
Lorraine credits Dr. Charles Vogel at the UM Sylvester Cancer Center in Deerfield Beach for the wonderful success she has had with hormonal based treatments following her initial chemotherapy. She has continued to work and cantor in a Catholic Church all these years. “Life has always gone on, and it is wonderful!”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun