The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 12, 2012

‘Life didn’t end at our house’: Family helping mom get through breast cancer treatments

Michele Mikesic Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— Richland Township resident Kathy Moran had a busy 2011.

For years, she looked forward to a career in nursing. With all four of her sons in school, and encouragement from her husband, the time seemed right. She enrolled in September.

Ever vigilant about health issues, Moran had her yearly mammogram that summer. The discovery of a cyst had doctors concerned enough to ask her to return for a follow-up exam in six months.

Moran was just 48 and had no family history of breast cancer, but in January, when she returned to her doctor, it was discovered there had been a dramatic change.

“I had stage 1 breast cancer,” Moran explained.

“They removed the tumor in February.”

She will always be glad she followed her doctor’s advice and returned for another test. “If I didn’t follow up, it would have been a lot further advanced.”

Subsequent treatments included six months of chemotherapy.

It was “tough,” Moran said of the treatments. But a woman she met on her very first day of chemo helped her get through.

“We had the same treatment plan,” Moran recalled. “Meeting her made the difference in how I did. I did great.”

She was thrilled to learn chemotherapy was not as bad as she believed it would be. “It’s your attitude for sure, but the drugs make it very doable,” she said.

“Life didn’t end at our house,” Moran noted proudly. She laughed as she recalled one of the boys calling while she was getting a treatment to tell her “they were starving and wanted me to bring something home to eat.

“Nobody wants this diagnosis, but when you get it you have to decide what are you going to do. Life still goes on. It’s just part of your life.”

Her husband and sons gallantly pitched in. “We went through it as a family.”

The boys – ages 11, 13, 15 and 17  – handled her battle with cancer “very, very well.”

Moran said her 13-year-old helped out by volunteering to shave her head before her hair fell out.

“He did a great job,” she said. “I think maybe it helped him accept it.”

Moran recently started radiation and said she is doing well.

She and her family are appreciative of the help and support they received from friends, neighbors and caregivers. “The folks at The Joyce Murtha Center were amazing.”

She also is grateful to God “for helping me get through this with the prayerful support of friends and family.”

The demands of her treatments forced her to postpone her education plans, but Moran will soon be back on the path to becoming a caregiver herself. She anticipates resuming her nursing classes in January.

She said she has changed the way she eats and now walks about three miles a day.

When asked what she thought was the most important message she wanted to share with readers, she didn’t hesitate.

“I can’t say enough about the importance of regular mammograms,” she said. “And anticipation of returning to the pursuit of my goals kept me focused and motivated.”

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