Lafayette teacher shares her story of fighting breast cancer

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life according to experts at IU Health Arnett.

Posted: Oct. 29, 2018 4:02 PM
Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 2:01 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life according to experts at IU Health Arnett. That's A statistic Lafayette teacher Gina Boyd had never heard until she was diagnosed. 

Usually, on your birthday, you get a chance to make a wish after you blow out your candles. But last year teacher Gina Boyd got something she never wished for while she sat in a doctors office at IU Health Arnett.

"My birthday is October 26th and I found out on my 46th birthday that I had breast cancer," said Boyd.

She had only taken a half day off from teaching and was now blindsided after radiologist Dr. Phyllis Martin-Simmerman gave her the news. News she now had to share with her husband and her 11 and 16-year-old children.

"To think of your children planning for their life without you it's hard to hear and it's hard to think about your children having to do that," said Boyd.

And she says it just got harder. "My family was calling me all day to tell me Happy Birthday and to then say guess what, thank you, but guess what was really a crappy way to spend my day."

Her loved ones began to share locations for treatments which were not local. Martin-Simmerman made the decision easier by hand picking her doctors at the IU Health Arnett cancer center only 16 minutes from her home. That's where she remembers having one of the sweetest moments with her radiation oncologist.

"As soon as he walked in the room he said Hi I'm Neil Estabrook, I'm so sorry you're here and I burst into tears. What a compassionate, beautiful thing to say, yes I'm sorry I'm here too."

The compassion continued with expressions of love Boyd received from her friends family and school community.

"We had meals three times a week prepared for us from October through March."

And Boyd is still surprised she went through radiation, chemotherapy, and a mastectomy because she had no risk factors.
She was experiencing breast pain, but when she made the appointment at IU Health it didn't occur to her it might be breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends women age 40 and older get a mammogram every year.

"I know other women are sitting there thinking, oh I'm probably good. I was that girl and here I am. Get your mammogram."

Because now, Boyd can finally receive a birthday gift she would actually wish for. Her doctor told her she could share the good news with her friends and family this year.

"She said you can tell them there is no evidence of disease. I'm like alright that works for me, I like take it no evidence of disease lets go with that."

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