by Hope Harrington Oakes

There is a sisterhood in America.  It’s an exclusive, yet also inclusive, sisterhood that consists of women who have been diagnosed and fought breast cancer. Breast cancer is a disease that touches many lives: young and old, rich or poor, even male or female.  According to the American Cancer Society, Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the United States, after skin cancer.  It is also the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in the U.S. One out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives.  Two local women, Patricia Franklin and Shilo Goodman were living their lives, taking care of family, working, and doing those 1,001 things that one does every day, until each discovered they had the dreaded diagnosis of breast cancer.

For Franklin, who works as an administrative assistant at McKellar Center at Columbus High, her journey started with her daily shower.  “I was in the shower and felt a lump.  I’m so clumsy, I thought I had run into the door.  A week or so later, it was still there, so my sister told me I’d better go get that checked.  I went to my nurse practitioner in Amory and she thought it might be a calcium deposit.  She scheduled me a mammogram, (I had a mammogram in April, just a few months earlier and it didn’t show up then) and the mammogram showed a malignancy.  I was diagnosed in October of 2015.  They took me to the pathologist next door and did a biopsy. It came back positive.  I wasn’t alarmed, with the anticipation of knowing for sure.  I have my faith in God and I said, ‘Here it is, and we will deal with it.”

“I spoke with several of my friends and finally decided on Dr. Shumake in Starkville. I had my surgery in Starkville, but had my chemo treatments with Amber Borden here at Baptist’s Cancer Center.  I had a lumpectomy, so I still have both my breasts.  It was left up to me to do what I wanted. Since it wasn’t a big mass, we did the lumpectomy.  After my eight weeks of chemotherapy, I had six weeks of radiology.  I’ve had two mammograms since then, and they both came out normal, thank the Lord.  I just had my port taken out on the 29th of September.  When I went in to have it taken out, that was a happy day.”

As far as what might have caused her cancer, Franklin said, “Dr. Shumake did the DNA Cancer test, and we discovered that cancer was not in my DNA.  My cancer was hormonal, and I believe that stress played a big part of it.  At the time, I was dealing with my mom, who had Alzheimer’s.  We kept her there at the house and I had to work, and other things in life.” Sadly, while she was undergoing her treatments, her mother passed away.  Her treatment took a toll on her energy and her hair fell out. ‘It didn’t bother me a bit, though, it did bother my son.” Now, Franklin is enjoying life with her life with her family and her new grandbaby,  “He’s a newbie and lives in Noxubee County, so I get to see him often.

For Shilo Goodman, a loving gesture from her son literally saved her life.  She said, “I was diagnosed on Monday, April 13, 2015, but I found the knot on April 3rd. I was ironing on Good Friday and my son came up and hugged me.  I gave him a side hug and I felt something weird so I called the doctor that Monday.  I went in on April 8th, had ultrasounds and a mammogram.  On April 10th, I had a biopsy.  On April 13th, I was diagnosed and on May 12th, I had a double mastectomy. It was very quick…crazy quick! 

Shilo and her family own The Fashion Barn in downtown Columbus.  They are a close-knit family and Shilo discussed it with them. “I was really okay, but I wanted to hit it head-on.  Columbus wanted to do a lumpectomy and 35 radiations, but I really wanted a double mastectomy, so I got a second opinion in Birmingham.  I didn’t tell her (Dr. April Mattox) what I wanted, I just let her tell me.  She suggested, due to my age, a double mastectomy, so that’s what I did, that and the reconstruction.”

Goodman had heard about Dr. Mattox from Shannon Bowen, another Columbus resident who was also a patient.  Goodman said, “Shannon had come in to the Fashion Barn at a time when I’d found the knot but I hadn’t had the biopsy, yet.  She told me everything, about her doctors, and all.  I wrote everything down and asked a couple questions.  At first, I kind of listened from a distance and then I went and really talked to her, and I’m very glad I did, because she gave me a lot of great information.  She really helped.  I kind of followed her same plan.  Goodman tried to do regular self-examinations, but her very first mammogram was for her diagnosis.  “I’d just turned 40, so that was my first and last mammogram. 

The first thought Shilo thought was “I’m going to die”, but her faith in God and the strength she gets from her family has helped her see it through.  Both Franklin and Goodman credit their strong faith in the Lord with the success of their treatments.  Both feel strong enough after their diagnosis and healing to feel confidence in living their lives to the fullest.  Franklin said it best, “The good Lord wasn’t done with me, and I’m going to live my life in His service.  I thank him for giving me another chance.”