After a panel decision, the stories of two women shown here were selected and they were honored with gifts and a banquet at Coosa Country Club. One was chosen as the most remarkable survivor story, and the other as the most remarkable caregiver story.
While all the stories were unique and told of each woman’s personal journey,
a select few touched the hearts of the panel in a special way.
Megan Dmitrenko was given a Medal for Mettle award for the story of her incredible journey while Rick Payne was given a Medal for Mettle award as the loving caregiver
of his wife, Cassie. Lisa Dempsey received the Pansy Dorling Humanitarian Award.
But of all the entries, these two remarkable stories were chosen as the winners:
Darlene Bagley, Caregiver story:
It all started with a flu shot in September of 2009. Several days after the shot, knots came up under my arm. The doctor thought it might be a reaction to the shot. I had several biopsies but they were not satisfactory so I had further testing. It turned out that it was cancer, but it did not originate where knots appeared.
More tests showed it to have originated in my ovaries and had widely spread to my left breast, lymph nodes, stomach and lung.
It has been a three-year journey so far and still going. The approximate time line for stage four and so widely spread with no surgery was projected to be about two years. Thanks to Dr. Khan and my husband Buddy, we are still battling.
I could never say enough to express my love for my caregiver, my best friend, my angel …. My husband. He is patient, kind, loving, cheerful, smiling and always happy. No matter how hard it gets, he can always find something good about whatever the situation is.
So many times when it seems like there would be no way things could work out, he always let me know the Lord can make a way. He always has a way of giving me hope and never giving up.
My sweet Buddy is by my side for each chemo treatment, doctor visit or any tests that are needed. I am so dependent on him. He always gets whatever I want to eat or takes me out when I am able.
During this journey, I have found out you have to have a reason to fight through the struggle. Buddy is my reason. I’m sure that without him and my great doctor, I wouldn’t be here today.
I am so blessed each day that I wake up and I always thank God for all my blessings and for having someone so kind and loving to take care of all my needs. I know all patients are not so lucky.
That’s why for the past two years Buddy has organized a motorcycle ride in my honor to benefit Cancer Navigators. They are great people who help manage the needs of cancer patients. We know personally how hard this journey is so that’s why we want to help them help other families going through cancer.
I am so lucky to have Buddy with me on my journey with all the challenges that come up.
My dear husband has been there for me through the massing of my mom in August, something I could not have made it through without his love and compassion.
I need him each day to help give me courage to keep strong and to fight. He is always there all the way.
I have only love and great respect and admiration for him. He has truly been an angel to me. He is the love of my life. He can always lift me up with his kind words and love. That love definitely shines through it all.
Lily Anna Davis, Survivor story:
A week had passed and I had heard nothing about my mammogram. No news is good news. That’s what I’ve always heard. Then, the phone call came in asking if I could come in for additional views. I was scheduled to go in on Feb. 15 for these views and also an ultrasound on Feb. 19.
I underwent a needle biopsy. Even after all of this I was still not prepared for what was coming next. The phone rang and my family doctor said “We need to get you scheduled with a surgeon. You have Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma in the right breast with not one but two lesions.:
I believe the next few hours, days or even weeks were starting to run together. I was 44 years old and breast cancer runs in my family. Cancer took my aunt and my grandmother (God rest her soul).
I have been having mammograms since I was 35 and have done self breast exams on a monthly basis. After all those years, nothing. All the mammograms, the self exams, the doctor exams were fine. Even this time I never felt a thing and neither did the doctor. Just goes to show how sneaky this disease can be. Thank God for all this advanced technology.
The next thing I knew, I was in Dr. Brock’s office receiving my options. Options? I as receiving options? This didn’t seem real. Not me. A wife and a mother. This is me they are talking about. Oh my God, I have breast cancer.
What should I do next? Who’s gonna take care of my children and my husband? What am I gonna do about my job — A job that I had only been on for seven months? I believe I was in a state of panic. All I knew to do was pray, pray pray. Then I received a call from Ann Hook (cancer nurse navigator). She explained everything to me and helped me to come back down to earth so I could make the decisions I needed to. It was time for me to take action if I was gonna beat this thing called cancer.
We started with an MRI of both breasts at the Northside Hospital in Kennesaw. Then, a bone scan at Floyd. On March 23 I had surgery to remove the two lesions. Now that the cancer was gone we had to discuss the treatment I was to take. First I had my port placed then off to Medical Oncology with Dr. McCormick and who I also call ALL my care givers (the amazing staff at Oncology which I have had the pleasure of working with in the past). Chemotherapy was Taxol, Cytoxan, Adriamycin (or the red devil), Neulasta, steroids, etc. etc. etc. It was all nasty stuff.
Weeks of this, along with Mr. nausea and vomiting, the hair loss, the hospital stay due to an infection and trying to maintain my job three days a week, as well as trying to keep up my strength and manage the stress and still trying to be positive to prove I was gonna beat this thing — this body finally made it through.
Next I was off to see Dr. Abdou and his wonderful staff. The radiation was not as bad as the chemo. It was a long 33 treatments and I finished up the second week in Dec. 2008, just in time for the holidays. I even had a bit of hair when all my family arrived on Christmas Day — my mom and all seven siblings, 21 nieces and nephews and 12 great nieces and nephews, my three children and two step-sons and their families). Boy was it a day to celebrate as I gave them all the news that I was cancer FREE. We all gathered around holding hands and crying tears of joy and praying thanks to God for my healing.
Through all this I don’t think I could have made it had it not been for all the support I received from all my friends at Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Dr. Brock, Dr. McCormick, Ann Hook and the ladies in my Cancer Survivor group “Bosom Buddies.”
But especially the support I received from my husband and children as well as my sister Dana and my friend Elaine who saw me to and from all my appointments plus I will always thank and remember my church families who were continually praying for my healing.
I have you all to thank, but most of all thanks to my daughter for giving me a namesake in January 2009, an amazing end-of-treatment reward — a granddaughter named Liliana Hope, named after me, her Nana “Lily Anna” and the hope we all had in my healing.
Whether you realize it or not, when you tell your story of encouragement and how you survived such a cruel and deadly thing, you touch people’s lives. You can make a difference. I have four sisters who have started having mammograms and also other family members, friends and co-workers. Any time I get a chance to help at fundraisers or charities or I’m in a crowd of women I ask the question “Do you go for regular mammograms?”
It’s surprising the number of women I get to tell my story to as someone once did to me. Thanks to all who have Survived to Share their stories with me. I hope that my story might help someone, somewhere, someday.
I thank God every day for the blessings of my new-found friends, new and reunited family members and I thank God for a second chance at life — a life I know I will survive. I have survived. I am a survivor. Thank God.
My name is Lily Davis and praise God I have been a survivor since March 2008.