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Breast cancer survivors honored

Oct. 16, 2013 @ 06:59 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Millie Tomlinson found a lump on her breast just weeks after turning 50.

"I had been having mammograms every year, but I found the lump in the shower that hadn't shown up on my mammogram less than a year before that," the Chesapeake resident said.

Like many women diagnosed with the disease, she had a mastectomy and went through months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

"After I did all of that, the doctors told me it would be back in two years," she said. "It's a journey that never ends. Every pain that you have, you think about it."

But her last check came back OK as did the several more before it. Now 59, Tomlinson is celebrating nine years of being cancer-free.

Cabell Huntington Hospital honored Tomlinson and others like her at its annual Breast Cancer Survivors' Dinner on Tuesday evening at the New Baptist Church in Huntington.

Marsha Dillow, director of the Breast Health Center and Edwards Comprehensive Diagnostic Breast Center at Cabell Huntington, said 600 patients were invited to the dinner this year, more than any previous year.

"It grows every year," she said. "Patients are living longer and are getting better treatment early on."

Not only were survivors and their families treated to a free meal, they also had the opportunity to tell their stories during an emotional Survivor's Walk where they walked along a pink path, taking turns telling how long they have been cancer-free.

More than 100 breast cancer survivors attended the 10th annual dinner, including Dora Spence, who was in attendance for the first time as a breast cancer survivor.

Spence, 65, of Wayne, was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer just after Christmas last year.

She had a double mastectomy this summer and just finished radiation treatments this week.

She said she is thankful for the support she has gotten from Cabell Huntington.

"The girls are awesome," she said. "You couldn't ask for any better."

The Survivors' Dinner was part of a series of events the hospital is hosting for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Up next, the hospital will host the Colors of Cancer 5K Run/Walk on Oct. 26 to raise funds for patients receiving care at Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, call 304-526-6314.

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