The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 16, 2012

After Hodgkin’s treatment, mom fights new cancer

Patrick Buchnowski

JOHNSTOWN — Crystal Law is no stranger to battling cancer.

The Adams Township woman began routine mammograms in her 20s after she was treated for Hodgkin’s disease.

Two years ago calcifications appeared. In July she had a biopsy.

“I really didn’t think anything of it,” the 38-year-old Law said. “I didn’t have a lump or anything. I felt fine.”

She was not fine.

The next day the telephone rang.

“My doctor told me over the phone,” she said. “It was ductal carcinoma with invasion. The most common form of breast cancer.

“I was in shock,” said Law, a nurse in the maternity ward of Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

“For the next three days I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling,” she said.

She had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease as a 17-year-old high school senior in Somerset. The cancer treatment included radiation that doctors now believe may have caused abnormal cell growth in her breast.

Doctors believe the breast cancer was detected early – Stage 1. Surgeons removed the cancer growth, and Law said she is nearly finished with her radiation treatment. She will need medication for several years.

 Law’s mother, Lorraine Barron, 60, recorder of deeds for Somerset County, was diagnosed last year with liposarcoma.

The family is pulling together.

Husband Trevor, sons Cody, 17, Triston, 15, and Connor, 13, and daughter Taylor, 12, are keeping her positive – especially the older boys, who are wrestlers at Forest Hills High School.

“They keep telling me I have to be mentally tough,” Law said. “I’ve got to stay strong. All I think about is my kids. I want to see them grow up.”

She is grateful for the support of the John P. Murtha Regional Cancer Center in Johnstown.

“They have been wonderful,” she said. “A lot of the staff remembered me from the first time they treated me 20 years ago.”

Law said the experience has helped her to appreciate all aspects of life.

“People complain about the weather,” she said. “I see the beauty in everything, rainstorms, snowstorms. This has just made me stronger.”

She urges women to do regular breast self-exams and get a mammogram before they turn 40.

“So many people in their 30s are getting breast cancer,” she said.

“Breast cancer is a killer. If you catch it early, it can be treated.”

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