Hospital staffer shows resilient spirit in breast cancer battle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA diagnosis of breast cancer can be a severe blow at any age.

When you’re 27, however, being told you have breast cancer can be devastating.

Sondra Green admits to shedding tears and thinking, “I’m gonna die!” A positive attitude and strong support from her husband of seven years, Benjamin, and other family members have helped her get through the ordeal so far and to focus on the future.

When Green first noticed the lump in her breast during a self-examination, she put it off as a benign cyst. Month after month the lump not only didn’t go away but got larger.

Finally she went in for an ultrasound, since mammograms are not preferred for someone her age. The technician recommended a biopsy, and the doctor who performed the biopsy February 5 removed the lump in her breast at the same time. No mastectomy was required.

Green said there is no history of breast cancer in her family, and tests show she is not a carrier for the cancer gene. That’s a relief since she and her husband have a four-year-old daughter, Armoni.

Although the size of the tumor led it to be diagnosed as Stage 2, Green showed no signs of the cancer having spread to the lymph nodes. Now, after several rounds of twice-a-month chemotherapy which ended Aug. 21 and completing the first week of daily radiation treatments for seven weeks, she is declared cancer free. Her doctors say the chances of the cancer returning are very low.

Green lives in Sawyerville and has continued going to Shelton State Community College to earn her degree in respiratory therapy. She hopes to graduate in December.

She works part time as an intern in the Respiratory Therapy department at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital and serves in clinics required by her curriculum.

During all the diagnosis and treatment, the nausea, hair loss and flu-like symptoms, Green refused to let the cancer get in the way of her life. In fact, the day after her biopsy and diagnosis she returned to class to take an exam. Her professors have worked with her to make sure she is able to keep up with classwork.

A lot of the people Green knows didn’t realize she was being treated for cancer. They thought at first she simply shaved her head as a fashion choice. Green never lost a lot of weight. What she did shed during the days immediately after chemotherapy she made up for during her “good” week.

Her husband “was nervous and scared” when he learned of the diagnosis, Green said. “He worried about me not being here.”

What kept her going, she said, was “knowing that a lot of people think about you, and you have a support system.” She thanks everyone who was there to help her and her family.

Green will continue to do breast self-exams and won’t put off seeing the doctor about any unusual lumps. She encourages all other women to have an examination, too.