“I’m proud to be here,” Hunt said.Although almost a generation has passed since her diagnosis with breast cancer, the memories are still fresh. The mere thought of the treatment, which …
“I’m proud to be here,” Hunt said.
Although almost a generation has passed since her diagnosis with breast cancer, the memories are still fresh. The mere thought of the treatment, which consisted of chemotherapy injections and a regimen of pills, makes her shudder. Even a certain shade of blue, the color of the office where she went for treatment, can conjure memories, sickening her stomach.
But the mother of two who can be seen operating a John Deere tractor on the cattle farm she owns with her husband, Jerry, in Polk County is what one may call a steel magnolia. Tough, no-nonsense, resilient and loath to miss her Friday weekly hair appointment.
The cancer made itself known several months after she’d had a mammogram.
“My arm started hurting,” Hunt said.
She even noticed a patch of skin on her breast was discolored.
After conducting several tests, including a biopsy, the doctor announced his diagnosis: It was breast cancer. Her last mammogram had been in August. It was February.
“I was by myself,” Hunt said as she recalled that day in the doctor’s office.
The news of the diagnosis was a shock. There was no history of breast cancer in her family, although she later learned her grandmother had died from uterine cancer. Also, Hunt, like many others, never dreamed she would get cancer.
“It won’t happen to me,” she had told herself.
Next came surgery remove the 2.3-centimeter tumor, followed by a round of treatments including chemotherapy and radiation.
“I would take the chemotherapy and then go to bed for three days and then I would get up,” Hunt said. “The chemo was terrible.”
And then she would go shopping. It made her feel better and kept her mind off of her illness.
Although her hair fell out in clumps, Hunt said there was a plus side to the effects of cancer treatment.
“I didn’t have to shave my legs for six months,” Hunt laughed.
However, losing her hair was a difficult experience for a woman who always had a standing appointment at the beauty shop.
“It was so depressing,” Hunt said. “But I finally just went to the beauty shop and got rid of it, and started wearing wigs or caps.”
However, her then young grandson did not approve of the hats.
“He wanted me to wear a wig,” Hunt said.
After months of cancer treatment, she learned the good news.
“I was cancer free by November,” Hunt said.
That was 21 years ago.
She speculated about how she got cancer. Was it the hormones she had taken for weight loss? Was it somehow related to the cancer her grandmother had? There weren’t any definitive answers.
Hunt stresses the importance of regular mammograms and said that women should be vigilant about self-examination for lumps that may go unnoticed.
But she doesn’t dwell much on the past. There is too much work to do on the farm where she and her husband of 30 years raise cattle, and where she can often be seen on her beloved John Deere tractor.
“I moved three loads of dirt with my tractor to where the cows gather near a marshy area,” Hunt said as she proudly showed off photos of the cows.
Hunt admits she tends to be a little possessive about her farm toy.
“It’s MY tractor!” she says with a laugh.
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