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Inspiration, encouragement part of healing process

Beverly Lloyd's family has been plagued by cancer for years.

"We've been through so much cancer in my family," she said. "It's really brought us closer together. It can be frustrating, but you just have to think positive about it and not let it get you down." Lloyd, 54, has lived in Thomson all her life. Her mother, Phelma Lloyd, is a 28-year breast cancer survivor and her niece, Darkina Smartt, is a seven- year survivor.

She lost her father, Charlie Lloyd, to lung cancer in 1992 and an uncle to throat cancer in 2009.

On June 26, 2008, Beverly Lloyd was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of her family history of the disease, she has gotten a mammogram every year without fail. "It showed up on the mammogram, and they caught it in the first stage," Lloyd said. "They never would have caught it otherwise because it was so small."

In August, Lloyd had a lumpectomy, a process in which a surgeon removes a section of tissue instead of the entire breast. Six weeks after her surgery, she started a series of four chemotherapy treatments, once every 21 days. After the chemotherapy was finished, she had six weeks of radiation treatment.

"Actually the radiation was a breeze," Lloyd said. It was the chemo that caused problems. She experienced a number of unpleasant side effects, mostly that the medicine made her short of breath. They would have to stop the treatment and start it back after a break, dragging it out from an hour-long process to three hours.

Her daughter, Tiffany Hill, was by her side for every treatment. Lloyd said her entire family was extremely supportive throughout her battle with breast cancer. She received a great deal of support from her two sisters; her brother; her daughter, Tiffany; her sons, Rafael Hill and Ricky Hill, Jr.; her niece, Darkina; and her three grandchildren, as well as her co-workers and her church. Because her niece had dealt with breast cancer so recently, she advised Lloyd about what she needed to do and what questions she should ask.

"She was my inspiration because she's been through so much," Lloyd said. "She's more like a daughter than a niece."

Her daughter explained everything to Lloyd's three grandchildren, especially the hair loss, which Lloyd said was devastating for the children. Having the little ones around was particularly encouraging, she said. "They wanted to help out, and they made me feel so much better," she said.

"Them being there would keep me occupied and entertain me. They also would make me laugh, and you definitely need that when you're going through treatment. I watched a lot of comedy on TV, anything to keep me laughing." One of Lloyd's chemo doctors told her that when his grandfather lost all his hair, he told his kids that if they rubbed his bald head it would make the hair grow back.

Her grandson, Quay, was 4 years old at the time. When Lloyd told her grandchildren they could help her by rubbing her head, he was eager to please. "He was all over my head rubbing, saying 'Grandma, we're gonna make your hair grow back quick,'" she said. Lloyd had to take a hiatus from her job in the twisting department at the Shaw Industries plant in Thomson, where she has worked for 17 years.

After her treatment concluded, she returned to the position.

"My job was very understanding," she said. "When I came back to work I started out working only eight-hour shifts for about two weeks to get the hang of it again. They were very supportive." Lloyd had a mammogram in April, and the results were normal. "I believe that your faith will get you through everything, and I know God has really brought me through," she said. "I try not to concentrate on the bad side of it and stay positive."

Web posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011

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