Teresa Smith defines her cancer story in two words … a journey. It began in July 2009, when she found out what had been previously diagnosed as a cyst was actually Stage 2 breast cancer. Something seemingly minor soon became life-changing.
Upon consulting with the superb medica l staff at Atlanta Piedmont Hospital and conducting her own research, Teresa began her battle against cancer with chemotherapy, followed by surgery. Her doctors felt that was the best “plan of attack” given the aggressiveness of the cancer. She underwent two rounds of chemo, 16 total treatments, over 20 weeks. The first several treatments were the most severe, with many side effects. But Teresa steadfastly kept her eyes on the end goal – to be cancer-free and healthy. In January 2010, Teresa had a bilateral mastectomy to remove all the cancer, and is scheduled to have her final reconstructive surgery sometime in the summer of 2010.
Teresa approached her cancer journey in much the same way she approaches her work – with a clear plan with set milestones. This approach also helped her keep her life as normal as possible. “Cancer is not my life,” voiced Teresa. “It is something that happened in my life, but I didn’t want it to become my only focus. There’s no real way to speed up those 20 weeks of treatment, so keeping my focus on work and other things was so helpful to me – a good distraction.”
Teresa is blessed with a wonderful support network, both personally and professionally. She credits her family, friends, management, colleagues, and the Piedmont Hospital medical staff for helping her through this journey. Wayne was and remains always by her side, never missing an appointment. Others who had fought and won their own battles with cancer also encouraged and inspired her.
For her garden, Teresa chose a colorful and fragrant mixture of pink begonias and rosemary. She stresses the importance of listening to your own body. “You know it better than anyone does, and when something doesn’t seem or feel right, go get it checked out. It’s always better to remove all doubt.”