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Profile: Amy Taylor

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In 1998, 39-year old Amy Taylor discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam. A baseline mammogram revealed nothing; her primary doctor identified it as a fibrocystic change. One year later, the lump - and Amy's concern-had grown. A subsequent mammogram and fine-needle aspiration confirmed Amy's worst fear: breast cancer involving the lymph nodes. Inevitably, Amy's first question was, "Why me?" A non-drinker and non–smoker, she had no family history of cancer. Although her strong faith helped her conclude that this experience must be happening for a reason, she prayed for courage, especially in dealing with Ashley, her 10-year old daughter.

A Family's Support
Although Amy found support and counsel in her husband, Richard, she so dreaded telling Ashley about the disease that she initially tried to hide it from her. But when Amy's hair began to fall out, she realized the time has come.

To her mother's relief, Ashley handled the news with grace and maturity. She proved to be an additional source of strength as Amy endured the long road of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Ashley's smiles and hugs brighten the sad days, and she encourages Amy to focus on her appearance and get out of the house.

Amy's son Terrence, who was born with cerebral palsy, has been another source of courage. He has overcome all that doctors said he would not, including graduating from high school with honors, driving and being employed. His response to Amy's illness mirrored the advice she'd given him as a child: Know who you are-if you believe in yourself, you can do it. Don’t doubt yourself!

S/S 2001 Updated 9/9/2004

A Kindred Spirit
A turning point for Amy arrived in the form of Esther Fussell, a Reach to Recovery volunteer. On the day that Esther first called, Amy remembers that she was not feeling well, having a bad headache. It took some gentle persuasion, but Esther set up an appointment to visit later that day. "I don't know why, but after her call I was so excited," Amy says now. "My headache was gone!" When Esther arrived and Amy opened the door to greet her, the setting sun lingering on the horizon behind Esther cast a glow around her head. In Amy's eyes, it looked like a halo. "I took one look at her and said to myself, 'I can do this.'"

That evening they talked and laughed, discussing surgery, bras, family and everything in between. Amy liked the fact that Esther didn't try to impress her; instead she embraced her with warmth and kindness. It felt good to talk to a kindred spirit – "girlfriend to girlfriend" – who had been through a similar experience.

Today, Esther continues to call a few times every week. "She goes beyond dedication," declares Amy. "I am so thankful for her." Amy also discovered that a stylish headwear can make hair loss much easier to deal with. Amy says, "Elizabeth helped me realize my hair isn't so important. I look good without it!"

"This Too Shall Pass"
Amy's cancer constantly reminds her how precious life is. "Life is so short – you never know what can happen. Now I know it's not about work and making money – It's about showing love to your family and being together."

Amy's most urgent advice? "If you feel something suspicious, but your mammogram is clear, don't ignore it – get another opinion."

Dealing with her daughter throughout her ordeal has taught Amy that it is important to know how much your children are capable of accepting. And it is important to set the tone by talking with them when your own emotions are under control.

Finally, Amy advises anyone facing cancer to keep the faith. Nurturing her spirit has helped her to understand that "this too shall pass."

Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-ACS-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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