In May 2007, Roxann Holliday was diagnosed with breast cancer. After finding a lump in December 2006, she went to the doctor to have it checked. After an initial diagnosis of fibroids, she went back to the doctor three months later for a check-up, and by then she had an additional lump under her arm. “I still didn’t dream it would be cancer.”
After having a needle biopsy, and then waiting a week for the results, Holliday found out she had breast cancer, and it had spread to her lymph nodes.
“As soon as the doctor walked in and shut the door, I knew what she was going to tell me. But she wanted me to understand that my cancer was treatable—she said 2007 was going to be a hard year but by 2008, we would look for me to be cancer free.”
Holliday started chemo that summer and treated the cancer as aggressively as possible. “The doctor told me that her best predictor of success was whether chemo was effective in shrinking my tumor. And every time we went in, my tumor was shrinking and we were that much more confident.”
She took drugs to keep her nausea away during chemo, but her white counts would drop and she’d end up in the hospital. And after five of her six aggressive treatments, she couldn’t control the nausea anymore and both her red and white counts dropped. She and her oncologist agreed that her last treatment wouldn’t be as strong.
One month after chemo, Holliday had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Three months later, she completed radiation. She also had a complete hysterectomy since her cancer was estrogen positive.
At one point during treatment, Holliday’s doctor asked if anyone had talked to her about survival rates. “I told her, those don’t apply to me. I trust that my doctors are doing everything they can and I’m putting the rest in God’s hands. At some point, I didn’t have a choice, I had to ask God to take this from me.”
This is her last year taking Femara, and Oct. 8 will be 10 years since Holliday’s mastectomy. At that point, she will consider herself to be 10 years cancer-free.
“When I was first diagnosed and my hair was falling out, I was concerned people would see me as a victim. But then I started to wonder, what if I’m that person who inspires someone. So after that, I was OK with sharing my story and hopefully giving someone else hope. I’m excited to have the opportunity to share that story with even more people.”