Breast, colon and ovarian cancer all run in Joyce Blackmon’s family.
Blackmon, 73, recently finished treatment for colon cancer – this after beating breast cancer in 2013. October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marks six years since she finished her treatment for breast cancer.
“It scared me, but I said, ‘I can beat it,’ and I have,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon is a believer in self-exams. Once a month, she checked for anything unusual.
In 2013, she found a lump.
“My lump showed up really fast,” Blackmon said. “There was nothing there and the next month, it was pretty big. So it does grow fast.”
It quickly was confirmed: breast cancer. Her doctor recommended chemotherapy and radiation.
Blackmon declined chemotherapy but completed radiation therapy.
“At the time, I could not do chemo because it scared me because my mother – we lost her,” Blackmon said. “She had colon cancer, which is the one that I just finished chemo for.”
While Blackmon is watchful, she is also grateful – to be a cancer survivor. She said it’s helpful to meet other cancer patients and become friends with them.
“We get to talking and helping each other out,” she said. “They say, ‘I’m having this problem,’ and I say, ‘I get that, too.’
“It’s good to talk to people who have the same cancers as you.”
Her advice: Be alert.
“If you are worried that you have a lump, don’t panic,” she said. “I have had friends with a lump, and it wasn’t cancerous.
“If you are worried, get in, the sooner the better.”
Every year, Blackmon participates in Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Twin Falls County Fair and Rodeo. This year was no exception. The event, which took place in August, honors local cancer survivors, bringing them into the arena on a horse-drawn carriage. For the fourth year, St. Luke’s Magic Valley helped to sponsor the event.
Tough Enough to Wear Pink, which features the signature color of the breast cancer movement, got its start by providing mammograms for people with little or no insurance. Giving has since expanded to include breast cancer diagnostic examination, the next step if a mammogram reveals anything suspicious.
The organization also contributes to the St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute emergency breast cancer fund, which helps people with breast cancer pay for expenses incurred during treatment.
Some patients, like Blackmon, also receive financial support from other sources like St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI)’s cancer patient emergency fund. The fund helps patients with medications, hotel lodging, housing costs, utilities, medical devices, transportation costs, groceries and gas cards.
Twin Falls Tough Enough to Wear Pink
Breast cancer awareness resources
If you would like more information or to donate, contact the Foundation at 208-814-0070 or email [email protected].
Michelle Bartlome is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.