Pink Ribbon survivors

In October 2016, a group of breast cancer survivors participated in the ETMC Pink Ribbon Getaway fashion show and shared their journey with the audience. Here’s the letters they wrote about their battle with breast cancer.

Click here to view a photo gallery from the event.


Front row (left to right) Judy Smith, Pat Neely, Dannie Baxter, Scharlanne Crozier Back row (left to right) Margie Fisher, Sarah Camp, Paula Torr

Dannie Baxter

In November 2015, I was scheduled for my mammogram, but due to my son’s wedding, I had to reschedule for March. Dr. Michael Klouda saw something on my mammogram and ordered a biopsy, which came back positive for cancer.

I cried and cried. I was scheduled for surgery and then radiation. I remembered that God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. Everything happens for a reason. God is showing me what I can do. I want to be an inspiration to other women. This year I was proud to celebrate 40 years of service to ETMC Tyler. I feel like I can help other women if they come down the path I just came on.

Sarah Camp

After a clear mammogram in the spring of 2015, I accidentally discovered a large growth in November. Dr. Klouda confirmed it was stage 3, aggressive and fast-growing breast cancer. My port was put in Christmas Eve, and chemo began Dec. 29.

There was a blessing and hope to be found in this diagnosis. I moved to Tyler the previous year, and had I not been here, I would not have received the incredible care, wisdom and talents of my team of doctors. My oncologist, Dr. (Marc) Usrey, put together a cocktail that completely dissolved my tumor after the first round.

There were dark times. I was hospitalized six times, and lost 60 pounds in five months during chemo. Soon, I was healthy enough to have a radical mastectomy with Dr. (Harris) Fender, an incredibly talented surgeon with a heart of gold. Glory to God my pathology report was clear, no signs of cancer, including in the 13 lymph nodes that were removed.

My faith, and that of my family, friends, medical team and strangers, carried me through the darkest nights. My nurses knelt at my bedside and prayed over me, laying healing hands on my body and speaking promises to God. My savior was with me in the darkest times, and those who surrounded me and ministered were truly the hands and feet of Christ, doing his work and speaking his mighty words.

Thank you to the nurses at ETMC, doctors at the ETMC Cancer Institute, my family, friends and my Savior.

Scharlanne Crozier

In 1997, I had my first and only child at age 36, and because I was older, my OB/GYN suggested that I begin yearly mammograms after the birth of my daughter.

In 2015, I went for my annual mammogram, thinking it was my yearly routine and there would be no problem. Then I got the call. For a moment, you get a sinking feeling, but I’ve known many friends who have been called back, and it was not an issue, so mine probably was not either. Eight years earlier, I had a breast reduction, so I convinced myself that I had scar tissue or something showing up from that surgery. Not so lucky.

Once Dr. (Michael) Klouda gave me the news and hooked me up with Dr. (Arielle) Lee and Dr. (Harris) Fender, I was on my way. As I told folks, I got on the “breast cancer bus,” which was headed on a year-long trip.

I’ve always heard that attitude makes a difference in these types of journeys. I generally have a good outlook on life, so I vowed to make this experience no different. Although chemo took a toll on my body, I continued to have a smile on my face. I actually had to “pretend” about 90 percent of the time, but in the end, my positive attitude and faith in God shaped the way to my recovery. A year ago, I had my double mastectomy, and this past January had my reconstructive surgery. Today I sport new hair and new breasts, and I am feeling great!

Margie Fisher

I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago. Like most survivors, I was breathless at first — in total disbelief. I remember walking to my car that day and found myself talking out loud saying, “If this is to be my fate and my journey, I will be fine with it and I won’t ask to be healed, but will instead ask to be given peace with it.” God gave me what I asked for — peace.

My cancer changed my life. I am grateful for every new day that I have been given. It certainly helped me prioritize my life. I have met many new friends, and hope to find my place where I can help others with their journey.

Remember, cancer is limited! It can’t cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy peace, kill friendship, suppress memories or steal eternal life. I learned it is ok to be afraid at times, but you have to have trust. Only you can choose how to walk down the path.

Just remember when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. If all else fails, just wear bright lipstick and big earrings. Keep the faith and smile.

Cancer may have started this fight, but together, we can finish it.

Patricia Neely

In 2014, I felt a lump on my breast. I received a needle biopsy and was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer, stage 3.

I received chemo, and by Christmas was losing my hair. I buzzed off what was left. I then had a lumpectomy, and two lymph nodes were removed as a precaution. I lost my fingernails, because of the chemo. I had 40 straight days of radiation.

My friend from second grade took me to all my treatments, and when the roads were covered in ice, her grandson drove us. He had lost his mother to breast cancer.

I had great support from my friends, church and strangers, and prayers from numerous states helped me.

The last Herceptin was in December 2015, and I rang the bell for a great Christmas!

Judy Kay Smith

My journeys and blessings began at the age of 55 in 2014. I received a letter from ETMC that my first diagnosis was stage 1a, invasive lobular carcinoma. After four treatments of chemo, I had a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery.

What got me through this was my faith in God, my wonderful husband and friends at the courthouse, who are my second family.

My team of doctors including Dr. (Harris) Fender and Dr. (Arielle) Lee were the best. Karen at Dr. Fender’s office went above and beyond the call of duty. What I’ve learned through this is that material things don’t mean anything. What’s important is your faith in God, your family and friends.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is just a temporary place.

Paula Torr

In 2014, on my 38th wedding anniversary, I received the call that something had been seen on my mammogram. In four days, I was diagnosed with stage 1, invasive lobular carcinoma.

I’m not much for playing the violin, so I needed a strategic plan.

First: Call upon and trust God.

My faith in God is the focus of my life. The rest of the plan would ultimately be fruitless without him.

Second: Be informed. I read a book titled, “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life,” and discovered ways I could protect myself from potential re-occurrence.

Third: Take action. I changed my diet and lost 20 pounds and began a regular exercise program. I have run a few 5k’s now, and won first place in my age group. My best time is 30 minutes, 50 seconds.

Fourth: Be vigilant, be positive.

The changes I have made are permanent. They are how I live my life. When life throws a curve or wrench and disrupts things, I keep at it.

My life is better now because of cancer. Not so weird as it might sound. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Go to the ETMC Breast Care Services page.