Gratitude in unexpected places: Beverly Self finds medical, emotional help along cancer journey

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Beverly Self's mother was only 41 when breast cancer took her life. That loss shaped Beverly's proactive preventative care, such as a baseline mammogram when she turned 35 and annual mammograms after she turned 40. She's thankful that, because of what happened to her mother, she always sought the newest developments in cancer detection. It was 3D mammography at Southeast Breast Care and Diagnostic Center that found a tiny spot in June of 2016 a spot her surgeon told her she would have never felt. That July, she had a needle biopsy and subsequent lumpectomy. She and her doctor opted against a mastectomy because of the type of cancer she had; they also worked together to decide if she should undergo chemotherapy. Her lab tests revealed neutral results and ultimately, because her mother had died so young, they chose to err on the side of caution. She began chemotherapy in September, the day after her son's wedding. After finishing chemotherapy in January of this year, she had radiation treatments through March. Then, she began a series of Herceptin infusions. This was a part of SoutheastHEALTH's personalized approach to her treatment based on her cancer's pathology. Herceptin is effective against tumors like Beverly's that overexpress the HER2/neu protein and has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. She completed the last infusion in August and hopes to have her chemo port removed soon.

Stayed positive

Through it all, Beverly never lost her positivity and belief that you don't realize how strong you are until you have to be. While the chemotherapy treatments did sometimes lower her energy, she experienced few side effects and was able to maintain her busy schedule. She is the wife of the principal of The Christian Academy in Sikeston, Missouri, and the mother of a 19-year-old daughter who attends Southeast Missouri State University, in addition to her grown son and daughter-in-law who live in St. Louis. She hardly missed a day of work at C.W. Boyce Dental throughout her treatment.

Beverly notes that the best days were those when she would arrive at the Southeast Cancer Center to discover a surprise someone dropped off for her. She received books by her favorite authors and other care packages that the staff would deliver, keeping the giver a secret. In addition to those tangible expressions, she had the emotional support of two close friends with whom she attends church. These women had also been through a cancer journey. In fact, all three of them had received the same diagnosis within two years. She jokes that wasn't a club she set out to join, but since she was the last one to go through the process, having the encouragement of women who were on the other side of treatment was invaluable.

Beverly would be grateful for the opportunity to bless other women who may be coping with a cancer diagnosis by sharing her experience as these friends did with her, commenting that "you never think you will be thankful for cancer, but it changes your perspective and provides you with new things to give thanks for."