Breast cancer suvivor stories: Sister Maureen Elfrink

Friday, October 12, 2012
Sister Maureen Elfrink (Laura Simon)

Age diagnosed: The first time, in 1991, I was 55. I had a mastectomy at that time. After that, I did use a prosthesis and did not have chemo or radiation, but did take tamoxifen for five years. ... I was faithful to having mammograms every year, and they detected a suspicious spot last October. It came back in April. Saint Francis had just gotten new mammography machine and discovered the spot had grown. I had a biopsy and it came back positive. I had a mastectomy and am in the process of reconstruction at age 76. I didn't need chemo or radiation either time.

The hardest part: The shock of finding out I did have cancer, and then to have mastectomy. I wasn't sure what that was all about. Reach to Recovery came in 1991 and 2012 and really helped. (Side note: Elfrink is training to become a volunteer for Reach to Recovery herself. All of the program's volunteers are breast cancer survivors, so they understand what others are going through.)

Advice for others: Be sure to do monthly breast exams. Be faithful with your mammograms. They're very important: That's how my cancer was discovered. With surgery, what we have in Cape Girardeau, is resources for care. In my experience, friends and family really aided in my recovery. Keep a positive attitude and enjoy life. Be willing to help others.