Breast Cancer Awareness | Survivor Interview with Edie Tolbert

mom4
mom4

Breast cancer rocked my world at 21 years old. My mother was diagnosed in 2008 with stage 0 and I was in full denial. I wouldn't end up reconciling my emotions until i sat at the edge of her hospital bed before she would end up having a radical left mastectomy. by the grace of of god, she was spared the horrific effects of chemo and radiation. but others are not so fortunate. I have met those women. cried with them, prayed with them and believed with them and their families for hope and a cure. it's probably safe to say you may never be directly affected by cancer in your lifetime, but you will no doubt know someone who is. it's so easy to offer words of encouragement and support, but how do we really help? how can we really get in the trenches with our loved ones? My mother has been a constant encouragement for others in her life. She has dedicated her survival to a ministry of service through her spa, Stonebrook Day Spa, by offering cancer patients services free of charge. She inspires me every day and I know her story will do the same for you.

When were you first diagnosed with Breast Cancer?

December of 2007, I had an abnormal mammogram. After a second look, they determined I needed a needle biopsy. The biopsy confirmed it was cancer in January 2008. Because of my yearly mammogram, they caught it early. Stage 0 DCIS, contained within the milk duct of the breast. I had 3 spots and with a lumpectomy, they would remove 1/3 of my breast with radiation treatment afterwards or I could do a single mastectomy and if my lymph nodes were clear I would be done. No chemo, no radiation. I chose a single mastectomy and my nodes were clear. Cancer Free!

Had you had routine mammograms before you were diagnosed?

Yes, I had my baseline mammogram at age 40 and then every year after that. I was diagnosed at age 47.

What were your initial thoughts when you heard the news?

That year, 2007, I had a lot of change going on in my life. Chapters were coming to an end, I was struggling, trying to find my new purpose in life. I did not have my mammogram in October as usual and when I went in in December I had a funny feeling that something was going to be different. Looking back now, I can see how God was closing those doors in order to prepare me for my fight against breast cancer.

How did you learn to cope with your diagnosis? What tools did you use?

Shortly after my diagnoses, I had my melt down. I cried out to God and told Him I wasn’t ready to leave my husband, my two daughters (ages 18 and 21) and I had promised my Dad when he died that I would take care of my mother both financially and physically. So, I needed to stay here, fight and beat this cancer. I relied on scripture, praise and worship music, the support and encouragement from my husband, family, church and friends.

When did you decide to use your business, Stonebrook Day Spa, to help give back and why? 

mom3
mom3

As we were preparing to open the spa, the Lord reminded me how the little things became big things during my journey. I couldn’t take a shower due to the drains I had to have after surgery, so it was difficult to wash my hair.  my husband would take me to my hair stylist and she would wash and style my hair for me. He took me to the nail salon so I could get my nails done complete with a neck and shoulder massage. Those little things, that seemed so insignificant, helped me have a little normal in my life when I felt like I had no control. That’s when I decided Stonebrook Day Spa would be more than just a spa. My ministry now includes providing free services to breast cancer patients in order to relieve stress and give them a little normalcy. Also, with a cancer diagnoses comes a mound of financial stress. There is no room for the extras, like manicures and pedicures. I am blessed to be able to provide those things for others. We have now expanded our cancer services to both men and women fighting all types of cancer. Our youngest client is 8 years old and our oldest is in her 70’s.

What would be the one thing you would share with someone just going through the beginning stages of battling breast cancer? 

Keep a journal. Write down your questions, your concerns, your feelings, scriptures, lyrics to songs that minister to you. When you are sad, go find the victories to remind you that there are good things too! Cry. Don’t feel bad about.crying. Don't let your pride get in the way of allowing others to help you and your family.Concentrate on getting well and Take care of yourself.  Find others who have gone through cancer and talk to them, ask questions and let them encourage you.