For The Tribune-Democrat
There was no place in Roxane Hogue’s life for cancer. As a wife, mother of four and career woman, she didn’t have time to engage in a battle against the life-threatening disease.
But when her doctor told her she had breast cancer, time stopped.
In what could have been a life-defining moment, the 45-year-old Loretto resident refused to let her cancer diagnosis define her.
With the words, “You have breast cancer,” Hogue’s mind began to race through her busy life.
First stop, her children: Aaron, 17; Abagail, 16; Seth, 11; and Mason, 8.
“How was I going to tell my children?” she said. “But my children were the reason to fight.”
For Hogue, it was not about the present, the moment of realization she had cancer. It was about so much more – the high school graduations, First Holy Communions, annual school dances and the many hallmark events every mother wants to share with her children.
“It’s about even the little things and just making sure you are there for everything,” Hogue said.
The next stop in her racing mind was her new job.
A few months prior to her diagnosis, Hogue began a new job at Mount Aloysius College as director of graduate and continuing education, ending 27 years with a former employer.
“I started in May and found out in November I had cancer,” she said. “I was worried about my new job and my new employer. Gone were all of my vacation and sick days that I collected over my 27 years.
“This is my career, not just a job. I wanted to make a good name for myself and not excuses. This was really important to me, and I pride myself in this.
“I asked, ‘How am I going to work cancer into my life and into my job?’ My life is pretty full, and I felt I couldn’t fit one more thing into my busy life.”
Fueled by love for her family and the challenge of a new job, Hogue decided to forge ahead and silently fight the enemy. Determined to make cancer the outsider, she kept her diagnosis hidden from many because she wanted to make her life as normal as possible.
“I opted for a lumpectomy last December and followed it up with treatment in January,” Hogue said
She had four rounds of chemotherapy with 33 treatments of radiation.
Because Hogue’s breast cancer was hormone-driven, she had a full hysterectomy. Her determination and positive attitude helped her rally from the major surgery, and she missed only a week of work.
“I wanted to show my kids that you can get through this and it doesn’t have to consume you,” she said. “You can have a normal life by making a few moderations.”
In November, it will be a year since her diagnosis.
Cancer can do many things to a family. But for Hogue’s family, there was some good.
“The line of communication with my kids is much stronger,” she said. “They are not afraid to ask questions now. I always thought I was a strong person, but this has made me stronger and our family stronger.”
For her children, their mom’s battle was a life lesson that reinforced faith, strength and what love can do.
Aaron, a high school senior, was impressed by how his mother took up the fight. “She made it look almost easy,” he said.
There were days when she was in pain or sick from her treatment, and that was hard for Aaron to watch.
“But she always looked to the brighter side and never whined about her cancer,” he said.
Abagail said she learned things she never knew about cancer.
“It is hard to know someone who has cancer, but it is a whole different story living with someone who has cancer,” Abagail said.
“A lot of people think of it as a death sentence, but it can be only an obstacle. My mother made me see you can have cancer and get through it if you are strong enough.”
Mason, the youngest, said, “Cancer is a really bad disease, and you need to be strong and remember God is with you.”
Seth, 11, watched his mother stand up to cancer and recognizes the need for a cure. He asked that money from his September birthday be donated to breast cancer research.
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