South Union breast cancer survivor vows to keep up fight
When Lisa Rose was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, she admits she was frightened.
Six months after her April 2005 mammogram, she found a lump in her right breast during a self-exam.
Having had a noncancerous cyst removed from her left breast years earlier, Rose was not initially overly concerned.
But the Fayette County resident immediately saw a doctor, and learned after a biopsy that the lump was cancerous.
“When I was told it was cancer, I was floored,” said Rose, 50, of South Union.
A volunteer with the American Cancer Society as a Reach to Recovery coordinator, Rose was asked to speak at a recent reception for a PA Breast Cancer Coalition photo exhibit.
Along with the state Department of Health, the coalition brought “67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania” to Fayette County for the first time.
Shown through Nov. 17 at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, the exhibit features women from each of the state’s counties, along with stories about how breast cancer affected their lives.
“Penn State Fayette is proud to partner with the PA Breast Cancer Coalition to bring the traveling photo exhibit to The Eberly Campus. I am pleased to see many of our faculty and staff coordinating with the community in this effort to help bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer,” Chancellor Charles Patrick said in a release.
Rose said she decided early on to “take the bull by the horns and get this taken care of.”
“I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to beat this, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do and help others,’” Rose said.
Three days after her diagnosis, Rose underwent a partial mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Rose said her surgeon, Dr. Michael Reilly, prepared her well for what she might next face.
She did not have to undergo conventional IV chemotherapy, but did complete 33 radiation treatments at the Robert E. Eberly Pavilion.
Rose continues to take chemotherapy in pill form.
“If it keeps cancer away, I’ll stay on it forever,” she said.
Rose learned after her own diagnosis that several aunts on both sides of her family were diagnosed with breast cancer at different times.
Married, with two adult sons, Rose remains active with the cancer support group at Uniontown Hospital, which meets at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.
As a Reach to Recovery coordinator, she matches recently diagnosed women in Fayette County with others who faced a similar type of breast cancer.
Rose also is co-chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser in Fayette County.
She agreed to speak at the opening of the photo exhibit, which celebrates survival and encourages women to learn about early detection.
Rose encourages women to do monthly self-exams.
“If there is a change in your breast, make sure you go get it checked,” she said.
“Get yourself a good support system. Talk to someone who’s been there, gone through the same stages you have,” Rose said.
Treatments are improving, and Rose said she has seen rapid advances just in the nine years since she was diagnosed.
“You never know if it will show up again. You have to be your own self advocate. Get out and enjoy life. The grass is a lot greener and prettier now,” Rose said.
Breast cancer survivor Jaynette Brown of Connellsville also was scheduled to speak at the program’s reception.
The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or [email protected].