A loving family.
A fourth grandchild on the way.
A vacation along the Pacific Coast to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary.
Those are just a few of the things Trina W. has to live for. Trina credits those things and a can-do attitude for her ability to keep beating cancer – 27 years after her first diagnosis.
“I was 21. I was breastfeeding my second child and felt a lump,” Trina recalls. “I went to the doctor thinking it was an infected gland. They ordered a mammogram and ultrasound, and it turned out to be a tumor.”
After a biopsy showed the tumor was cancerous, Trina and her doctor talked about options and decided on a lumpectomy. Trina explains, “We watched it closely but we didn’t do radiation or chemo or anything like that because the margins were clean. Three years later, I found another lump in the same breast. After that, every few years I was having another lumpectomy. My medical team also wanted to be diligent on pelvic exams because breast cancer is known to spread. At 29, I had a hysterectomy because it had spread to my uterus. ”
More breast lumps started showing up after the hysterectomy. Trina had moved to the Merrill area at that point and started seeing a new doctor. She went to an oncologist to see if more radical treatment was needed. The oncologist sent Trina for genetic testing and felt she was overdue for a mastectomy. At the time, though, Trina’s medical coverage was through her husband’s employer. “They refused to pay for it,” Trina says. “The clinic’s attorney wrote a letter to the insurance company and the state department of insurance. They fought for me and were turned down.”
The geneticist and oncologist feared that Trina wouldn’t live to see 50 if they didn’t do something. So they prescribed a 12-month course of tamoxifen, a powerful drug that’s used to treat some types of breast cancer. While taking the drug, Trina experienced joint pain, exhaustion, nausea and other flu-like symptoms. “Probably on a daily basis, I wanted to throw in the towel,” she recalls.
After 10 months, Trina told her oncologist she was done taking tamoxifen. He insisted that she had to keep taking it for two more months. “I reminded him that he worked for me. And he reminded me that I had four children to take care of,” Trina says. “So I finished the tamoxifen.”
“After joining Check `n Go, I enrolled in their health insurance plan,” Trina says. “The insurance has been great. “I had the mastectomy with some radiation treatments afterward. Because I’d had a total of 49 lumpectomies from the age of 21, I had to wait five years for reconstruction.”
After going through so much, Trina had a right to believe that she had put cancer behind her. But there was more to come – including surgery for thyroid cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. Although thyroid cancer typically grows slowly, Trina and her doctors recently found new growths on her carotid artery.
“We’re keeping a really close eye on it,” Trina says. “If it gets too big, we’ll have to take the chance. I didn’t fight through all that to quit fighting now. I feel like you have to take it day by day. Some days I’ve had to take it hour by hour or minute by minute.”
“For this minute, I’m here,” Trina continues. “That makes it a little easier. I think of all the things I might not have done or seen, if I hadn’t fought so hard. My first grandbaby’s birth, my kids graduating. My 20th wedding anniversary is coming up in two years. My husband and I plan to go on a long vacation, all the way up the West Coast. I’m not going anywhere before I get that vacation. Sometimes you have to think of all the things you still have to look forward to, to bring you back up.”
Trina’s can-do spirit is an inspiration to everyone, no matter what kind of challenge they may be facing. We’re thankful that she’s a survivor – and we’re lucky to have her on the Check `n Go team!