'I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy'

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tonight the track where the horses strut their stuff at the show ground on Robin Hood Road will be a walking track for people participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

The all-night event starts with a Survivors' Lap. Everyone walking in that lap tonight has their own story to tell, and here's one of them.

Natalie Grogan found a lump in one of her breasts in December 2004. She was 32 years old. Natalie knew that breast cancer was prevalent on both sides of her family, so once she was diagnosed, she said, "Go ahead and take them both and be done with it!"

Doctors performed a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, taking muscle from Natalie's back and using it, along with implants, to rebuild her breasts. She was relieved to learn the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes.

The operation was performed in January 2005. By spring of that year she was undergoing a series of eight aggressive chemotherapy treatments. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy to take chemo," she exclaims.

She would go to Maury Regional Hospital every two weeks on a Thursday for a treatment. Then she'd have the weekend at home to get over the worst of it, manage a few half days at work the next week, and three full days the week after that before it was Thursday again and time for another trip to the hospital.

The first four treatments left her horribly nauseated, and then, when the "cocktail" of drugs was changed for the rest of the sessions, she ached all over and felt terribly weak. Her hair fell out, but she hardly wore the wig she was given: "It just wasn't me to wear a wig." She wore a bandanas or a ball cap.

After the chemo, Natalie was prescribed five years of Tamoxifen. She and her husband Greg had been trying to start a family for about three years before she was diagnosed. Now she's definitely not allowed to get pregnant because Tamoxifen can cause birth defects.

Will she want to start a family when she comes off the drug at age 38? Natalie's not sure yet.

Since she finished chemo she goes for checkups every four months and "so far so good."

Natalie says her family and friends were extremely supportive, and so were Westvue Church of Christ and the Assembly of God . . .Pick up a copy of Friday, June 20, 2008 edition for entire coverage.