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How one woman is battling breast cancer during the pandemic.

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Continuing Chemotherapy Amidst COVID

Janie AdamsJanie Adams of Elk City credits an emergency gall bladder surgery for saving her life. It was a CT scan during an ER visit that detected the lump in her left breast. Although Adams was only 34 years old at the time, her cancer was initially classified as Stage 3. However, it was later discovered that it had metathesized into her chest wall, making it a Stage 4 cancer.

Still, Adams chooses to see the good in the situation. “If it weren’t for my gall bladder attack, I wouldn’t have discovered I had breast cancer, and if I hadn’t discovered the breast cancer I wouldn’t have known about the spot on my chest. So really, if it hadn’t happened the way it did – I may not be alive today.”

Samer Hassan, M.D., with the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute at Southwest Medical Center, is Adams’ oncologist. “I remember how heartbroken she was as well as her husband and daughter when they first got the diagnosis. I explained the gravity of the situation to them but also gave hope for a better outcome.”

Janie was determined to fight. She had a double mastectomy, underwent radiation and continues to receive chemotherapy treatments every three weeks – even during the pandemic. “I was nervous at first about receiving treatment during COVID because I know I have a weaker immune system and I am at higher risk of complications if I contract it,” says Adams.

“But I have been really impressed with the way the hospital has protected people like me. Everyone is super vigilant, and everything is super clean. There are absolutely no guests allowed in the cancer unit, which was upsetting at first because before COVID my husband was at every one of my treatments. But now I realize it is for my safety and for the safety of others, and I appreciate that.

Janie Adams and familyAnd it appears, Adams’ treatments are working. Her last scans came back clear and Dr. Hassan says she is in remission. “The first six months I thought I was going to die,” Adams admits. “I felt so sick and I lost my hair. But now, I am amazed at how well my body is holding up. I thank my doctors, my family and my friends for the about face.”

But they say it was Janie herself who reversed her course. “She is a very brave and strong-willed woman,” declares Hassan. “I believe her upbeat attitude and positivity are part of the reason she is doing so well today.”

Adams will remain on maintenance therapy for the next two years. After that, hopefully she will be able to stop treatments altogether. 

Her message to women this Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that you don’t have to be over 40 to get it. Like her, many of those who do get it have no family history of the disease. She says it is important for all women to stay educated, stay observant and stay strong. Adams encourages women to get their annual mammogram, and not delay screenings or care due to COVID.