Been there, done that.
That's what Daisy Ansley thought last September as she had her annual mammogram. Even when the doctor told her the mammogram revealed a suspicious lump in her breast, she wasn't worried. After all, two of her co-workers had just gone through the same thing, including radiation treatments, and they were fine.
"Then he sent me to another doctor, who sent me to another doctor, who sent me to another doctor," Mrs. Ansley said. "And when that doctor pulled his chair over close to me to talk, I knew then that it wasn't going to be a piece of cake."
Her cancer was diagnosed as stage three and required two lumpectomies, 33 radiation treatments and four rounds of chemo.
"I went to the doctor alone, because I thought I would just hear what the others (co-workers) did," Mrs. Ansley said. "But at that point, I lost it. I had to call my husband and he came right over."
Mrs. Ansley was all too familiar with the effects of chemotherapy. Her sister had gone through it two years earlier before she died from lung cancer. At that time, Mrs. Ansley thought she'd never go through that, no matter what.
"But then all I could think about was my three grandbabies. I'll do anything for them," she said.
Thoughts of 11-year-old Leila and 9-year-old Bailey Powers and Nathan Brabham, 2, "kept me going," Mrs. Ansley said. Plus, she wanted to fight it for her sister's memory.
The chemo took its toll, though. The first two treatments made her sick, but the third one "put me down," she said. She lost 12 pounds in five days.
"Of course, it all came back in two days as soon as I got well," she added with a laugh.
Then came the morning that she woke up and habitually ran her hand through her hair. But this time, her hair came out in bunches. She cried -- a lot.
"Losing my hair was hard; it bothered me," Mrs. Ansley said. "But it turned out not to be as bad as I thought, because people know it's going to happen and nobody said anything."
She invested in a lot of caps and tried to find one of every color. She continues to wear the caps, although her hair has grown back.
"They say it comes back thick and curly," Mrs. Ansley said. Then she turned her eyes upward, removed her cap and laughed. "Well, mine came back ... happy. It's all over the place. I can't do anything with it."
All the trials were much easier, thanks to family and friends, and she wants to "thank them publicly." Buck, her husband of 36 years, and their daughter, Christy, and son, Jeremy, sat with her six to eight hours at a time in medical treatment and waiting rooms. Her friends brought food, offered encouragement through phone calls, prayer and cards "every day. It meant so much."
Mrs. Ansley has been a member of the Town Council of Dearing for the past eight years and a McDuffie County school bus driver for five years. Her co-workers went the extra mile, pushing administrators and school board members to create a sick-leave bank to share their sick days with Mrs. Ansley and others who miss work because of catastrophic illness. Mrs. Ansley said she used all of her sick days, plus missed three more weeks of work she didn't get paid for. The sick-leave bank was passed by the Board of Education last month. Although it was too late for Mrs. Ansley, it will help others.
"I'm glad they got it," she said. "But I pray I never have to use it."
One year after her diagnosis, Mrs. Ansley encourages others to "not skip the routine tests." She also offers encouragement to anyone who may have to go through chemotherapy.
"I'm not going to say it wasn't bad, but I will say it's worth it. That's one little glimmer of hope," she said. "Everybody can be different. So, go for it. Do what you have to do. And, always put it in God's hands, because He is the healer. It'll be worth it in the end."