The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 19, 2013

Breast cancer survivor: Right attitude essential

HOMER CITY — When Melissa Fedoruk was diagnosed with breast cancer, she made the decision that it was not going to become the center of her world.

“I can live with cancer, but it’s not going to be my life,” the 39-year-old Homer City resident said.

Fedoruk’s ordeal began in October 2012, a few months after she stopped nursing her son, Deegan.

She said she felt a lump under the nipple on her right breast.

A mammogram and ultrasound done at the Women’s Imaging Center at Indiana Regional Medical Center showed inconclusive results and it was decided to monitor the situation for four months.

At a follow-up exam in March, Fedoruk learned the tumor had grown to twice its original size and a second tumor was found on the side of her right breast.

A biopsy was scheduled for March 7, and on March 12 Fedoruk learned she had stage 2 breast cancer and it was hormone based.

“When the results came in I kind of just knew, especially after they found the second lump,” she said.

She said hearing the news hit her and her husband, Peter, hard, and many tears were shed.

“I was angry,” Fedoruk said.

“I felt robbed. I felt like I was robbing my son of a year with me, that’s what got me the most.”

But she didn’t have much time to dwell on the situation or even seek a second opinion. On March 25, she had a right breast mastectomy done at the Women’s Imaging Center.

Fedoruk decided not to have reconstructive surgery and instead opted to wear a prosthesis.

“I wasn’t attached to that breast. It’s not a heart or liver. I don’t need it to survive,” she said.

Following surgery, she underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, finishing the last round

Aug. 30.

She didn’t need radiation because her lymph nodes were clear.

Fedoruk now is undergoing

12 treatments of herceptin, which helps reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

She also will need to take tamoxifen for five years to block estrogen production.

Because Fedoruk is still doing treatments, she can’t say if she’s cancer free, but said her doctors are hopeful that she will come out of it with a clean bill of health.

“We caught it early and that helped,” she said.

Next month Fedoruk will undergo genetic testing. If the tests come back positive, she plans to have her left breast removed as a precautionary measure.

Fedoruk is employed by First Commonwealth Bank in Indiana and said following the surgery she wanted to get back to work as soon as she could and back into a regular routine.

“I worked straight through the treatments,” she said. “I wanted to feel as normal as possible.”

She said her co-workers, family and friends serve as her main support system and they’re always there to lend a hand.

Fedoruk also attends a support group that’s held once a month at the Women’s Imaging Center.

“Sometimes we talk about the illness and other times we’ll

just chit-chat and eat,” she

said.

“It’s comforting to have a 14-year survivor sitting across from you.”

But at the end of the day when it comes to dealing with cancer Fedoruk strongly believes it’s all in your attitude.

“It is what you make of it,” she said.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.

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