Beating breast cancer
Our reader shares her story
Last April, Ladies' Home Journal and the Komen National Race for the Cure asked readers to nominate breast-cancer heroes -- survivors whose stories were truly inspirational. We received hundreds of nominations, and many generous donations to help find a cure for the disease. Here, the winner of our contest shares her story.
Mindy Parsons' life has been changed by breast cancer not once, but twice. Twelve years ago, Mindy, now 39, was excitedly looking forward to meeting her birth mother for the first time when she received a devastating phone call. "I'm sorry," the counselor at the adoption agency told her, "but your mother passed away just a few days ago."
The cause of death, at age 48: breast cancer. At the time, says Mindy, "I was too upset to think about what she died from." But seven years later, that phone call came back to haunt her when she found a lump in her breast. A biopsy revealed she had infiltrating ductal carcinoma -- an especially aggressive tumor. "When I heard that, it was as if all the air had been sucked out of the room," says Mindy.
If there were ever a good time to get such bad news, this wasn't it. Mindy, who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, had just been laid off from her job as an editor of legal newsletters. Her twins, Cody and Savannah, were just two years old. And her husband, Judd, now 35, had a job as a private yacht captain that took him away from home for weeks at a time.
Just three days after receiving her diagnosis, Mindy underwent a modified radical mastectomy on her cancerous breast. Following the surgery, she endured six months of chemotherapy. She struggled with fatigue, gained 30 pounds and watched her long, beautiful hair come out in clumps.
In many ways, Mindy's illness brought her and Judd closer: "Now, we don't take each other for granted, ever," says Judd. "We had been married just a few years when she was diagnosed. This was the first real test we faced together."
Mindy also gained support from her loving adoptive parents, Max and Margery Enos. "It was hard on her, both emotionally and physically," says her mother, who nominated Mindy as an LHJ breast-cancer hero. "Mindy had a lot of good days and a few very bad ones. I was proud of how she handled it."