This is the second of four stories that will publish in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month detailing the stories of breast cancer survivors.
ANDERSON — Toni Cantrell has been writing since she was 12 years old. It has been the one constant in her life and has helped carry her through the tough times.
She and Manuel, her husband of 58 years, have two sons, two grandchildren and one great-grandson. She worked at Pay Less for 25 years, then Elder-Beerman before retiring from Core Source in 2000.
"I hadn't had a mammogram in years," Cantrell said, "and that little voice in my head, which I consider the Holy Spirit, kept saying, 'get a mammogram' over and over again. Finally, I listened and got a mammogram on Sept. 28, 2000. Thank God I listened. A small spot was found in my breast about the size of the tip of my little finger. In six months I was to come back for another mammogram. The spot hadn't changed much but was slightly bigger."
After a core biopsy was done April 23, 2001, Cantrell was told the small lump was malignant and that she had Stage IV cancer. "On April 30, I had a lumpectomy," Cantrell said. A biopsy was also done on the master lymph node near her breast, but no cancer cells were found.
Suggested treatment included chemotherapy and radiation. "Between June and September 2001, I had six chemo treatments, one about every two weeks, unless my white blood cell count was too low," she said. "If it was, then I couldn't have chemo that day."
"From October to December 2001, I had 31 radiation treatments," she added. "During my first visit, they made a mold for me to lay in while having the treatments. I had to lay with my arm up and above my head and my body twisted in such a way, it would have been impossible to lay still for any length of time, plus it would have been very uncomfortable."