The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 30, 2013

‘You realize how precious life is’: Jennerstown woman gets diagnosis 7 years after sister died from disease

JENNERSTOWN — Seven years to the day Cathy Woy’s sister died from breast cancer, the Jennerstown resident had a biopsy to determine if she herself had the disease.

She did.

Her sister, Marilynn Kaufman, passed away on Nov. 12, 2002. Woy’s diagnosis came in 2009.

“It was scary as hell,” said Woy, 62. “I knew that she died seven years before. What was going to happen to me? It brought to reality that this was what she died from.”

There was a significant difference between the sisters, though. By the time Kaufman learned about her cancer, it had spread to several lymph nodes. Woy caught the disease in an early stage.

“She had a more aggressive breast cancer,” Woy said.

At the time, doctors told Woy that a lumpectomy would not remove all the cancer for certain.

So, she decided to get a mastectomy, calling the decision a “no-brainer.”

Woy then received chemotherapy treatments, taking off only one day of work as an at-home medical transcriptionist when going through the process.

“I never missed a day of work when I was going through chemotherapy, until my last treatment and I got sick,” said Woy.

Her final treatment occurred on June 21, 2010.

“That was the day I looked forward to,” Woy said.

She still receives regular medical checkups and mammograms.

“I hold my breath every year when I have my test,” said Woy, “and pray a lot, definitely pray a lot.”

Woy, who is currently cancer free, said getting the disease changed her outlook.

“It puts a perspective on life,” said Woy. “You realize how precious life is. You don’t really ever think it’s going to happen. You live life differently. You treasure every day you have. You count on family and friends.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

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