Written by Amanda Schrauben
Retired bus driver Brenda Paul did not anticipate having to walk her own cancer journey. But in June 2018, her diagnosis was the beginning of her story as a cancer patient.
Brenda went in for a routine mammogram. The following day she received a call to tell her she needed to come in for more images. This led to having a biopsy performed and being told she had breast cancer. Originally told she was a stage I, that diagnosis was changed to stage II when more tumors were found than originally expected during surgery to remove the cancer.
While cancer was found in only one breast, Brenda opted to have a double mastectomy last August to remove tumors as well as lymph nodes. During this surgery, expanders were also put in. Over the period of a few weeks they were filled with saline to expand the skin in preparation for implants. It takes several months after radiation to heal enough to be ready for implant surgery. However, in May of this year Brenda had the expanders removed, deciding that having implants was not what she really wanted.
In November 2018 treatments of radiation began for 25 consecutive days. Brenda had a good, local network system including her brother and younger sister who provided much help. “My sister also put together a ‘prayer posse’ for me, who spent many hours holding me up in prayer for my entire journey, and beyond.” she says of the support she received. Her husband of 11 years, four children, 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren were supportive during treatment and recovery. She felt kind, caring, and compassionate feelings from those close to her as well as those she did not know well. She felt comfortable sitting in the waiting room before radiation, sometimes talking to others about their journey and treatment.
In January of this year, Brenda was declared cancer free. She had a photo of her taken with a survivor sign and made sure it was spread as far and wide as possible. She’ll also be attending the Pink Arrow game this year and would like to thank her sponsor, Carol Hamilton. While deemed free of cancer, she’ll still have to have regular check ups with her surgeon and oncologist to ensure she remains cancer-free.
While working, Brenda was a bus driver for Lowell Area Schools from 1980-2002 for mostly special education students. In retirement she keeps busy with various womens’ groups in the community. She also is the instructor for an exercise class for Senior Neighbors which takes place at Schneider Manor where she resides.
Brenda has been thankful for the support she has received from Gilda’s Club groups as a means to connect with others and learn a little about what to expect during her treatment. She’s also appreciative of Pink Arrow and those who stepped up to help with appointments when it was needed. She feels like those around her went above and beyond.