This is the third of four stories that will publish in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month detailing the stories of breast cancer survivors.
ANDERSON — Anderson resident Martha Hardin is a private person but was persuaded by her youngest daughter, Chastity Hardin, to share her personal story about her fight with breast cancer.
Chastity submitted the following to The Herald Bulletin:
"My mother’s name is Martha Hardin and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2010. After a routine mammogram, followed by a biopsy and surgery, my mother and our family were thrust into the fight of beating breast cancer.
"My mother has gone through a range of emotions during these past three years. There have been fear, tears and cheers and I’m happy to say my mother has remained cancer free since her surgery. I am so proud of my mother and the strength and faith she has shown. I love my mother more than words can express and I will continue to be her biggest supporter fighting alongside her. Humbly submitted by, Chastity Hardin, daughter of a breast cancer survivor."
Chastity, however, didn’t tell her mom she had sent the idea for a story to the newspaper.
"My mom is a very private person," said Chastity, "so when I was called about including her story in the newspaper, my first thought was, my mom is going to kill me."
After talking to her mom about sharing her story, Martha agreed, thinking it was important to share the story that might help someone else.
Martha Hardin, 67, retired from Guide Lamp after 30 years and has been married to her husband, Josh, for 43 years. "I have seven kids and 17 grandkids," she said.
Martha said that she was diligent about doing her breast self exams and annual mammograms.
In June 2010, Hardin went for her annual mammogram at Saint John’s Women’s Center. They did a mammogram and Hardin was sent out to the waiting room and then called back for another picture to try and get a clearer image of part of her breast.
Martha was asked to come back for a follow-up mammogram another day. After completing the mammogram, they continued to do some other tests, including an ultrasound of her breast.
"My mom called and told me what was going on," said Chastity. "I was at work and immediately left to be with my mother."
"Everything went really fast after that," said Hardin. A biopsy of the breast was scheduled within a week, and it confirmed breast cancer.
"I remember hearing the doctor saying that my mother had breast cancer," said Chastity. "Tears were streaming down my face as I was thinking I’ve got to be strong for my mother."
Martha said, "Chastity couldn’t stop crying, so I was trying to reassure her and she said, ‘Mom, I should be the one consoling you.’ I kept telling her I was going to be all right. I’m going to fight this, no matter what it takes."
"Later when I got home, I was lying in bed and finally started crying," said Martha. "When I was first told about the cancer, I was numb and couldn’t cry. It was unreal to me. I asked the Lord to help me find strength."
The type of breast cancer Martha was diagnosed with was Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), Stage II. Because there were multiple areas of her breast affected, a mastectomy was suggested. As a result, Hardin didn’t have to have any chemo or radiation. She takes a medication called Femara in pill form once daily. She has been taking it for three years and is to continue for two more years.
Martha stressed the importance of having an annual mammogram. Thanks to having hers, the cancer was found early.
"I would suggest to women that they take someone with them to their mammogram appointments to keep them company while waiting and to be there for support if needed," said Martha. "Just sitting there waiting can be scary."
Chastity, who works at St. Vincent Anderson as a medication access coordinator, has taken her mom to all of her appointments, mammograms and even family doctor visits since her mother's follow-up mammogram three years ago. "I think it’s good to have a second set of ears," said Chastity.
"It sounds strange but the cancer actually strengthened my faith," said Chastity. "It made me realize how strong my mother is. I was able to see her strength. I did some serious praying for my mother and God answered our prayers."
Invasive (or Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) This is the most common breast cancer. It starts in the cells lining a duct, breaks through the wall of the duct, and invades (grows into) the tissue of the breast. From there it is able to spread (metastasize) to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. IDC accounts for about 8 out of 10 invasive breast cancers. Information from The American Cancer Society website: www.cancer.org