The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breast Cancer

October 9, 2012

Survivor made many friendships during her ‘journey’

BEDFORD — Alice Corle says that her battle with breast cancer had two remarkable notations: The fact that it was seemingly unremarkable, and meeting other people with cancer left the largest impression on her life.

“I had a very easy journey,” said Corle, 59, who is employed part time as a registered dietician at at Bedford Hospital and at a kidney dialysis center.

“I’m almost embarrassed, because I have heard of so many other people who had such a hard time.

“But I still had to go through the journey.”

Corle was 55 at the time of her diagnosis, which was detected through a routine mammogram screening. Corle said her cancer was contained in one area, and was found so early that it wasn’t able to be felt by touch.

“After the doctor told me the biopsy showed that I had cancer, she told me that if I had to have cancer, this was the kind to have,” Corle said.

“My doctor was so positive and so was the staff. At no point did I feel that I had anything to worry about.”

Two weeks after her diagnosis, Corle underwent a lumpectomy surgery followed by 35 radiation treatments. She traveled by van with a small group of other cancer patients from Bedford to Altoona Hospital for radiation therapy.

“The friendships I made on that van are the most memorable part of my journey,” Corle said. “We became like a family.”

Sadly, Corle is the only remaining survivor from her many van rides.

“They were much older than I was, and they had different types of cancer, but we all developed a common bond,” Corle recalled.

She said one friendship in particular was with a man who was being treated for prostate cancer.

“I ended up befriending this man, and we would schedule our follow-up appointments at the same time so we could have lunch together,” she said.

“He died about two years ago, and when I spoke to his daughter after the funeral, she told me that she was glad that he had met so many nice, supportive people on that van, because it made his journey easier.”

Corle said her husband, Roy, supported her the entire time.

“The hardest part was when I had to tell him the news that my biopsy showed cancer,” Corle said. “He came home with a big smile on his face, expecting me to tell him that the results were good.

“But I had to tell him that the news wasn’t good, and I saw the look on his face. That was hard.”

The couple will celebrate 30 years of marriage in November. They have one son, who is a student at Temple University.

When asked if having breast cancer affected her life, Corle said the biggest reflection is that having cancer did not seem to change her life much at all.

“It seemed like this cancer treatment was just something that was going on behind the scenes, and I moved through it a day at a time,” Corle said. “I can’t say it changed my life, but my journey was very easy. And I guess the fact that I am still moving on as if it never happened is the best thing.”

Corle said if her five-year post-cancer appointment in February goes well, she will officially be released from treatment.

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