Gallery of Hope
Sharon Dapp thought she’d had her breast cancer experience over and done with in 2005.
But six years later, she once again faced the disease.
That she has survived and is able to tell her story is as much testament to her positive attitude and the support she received as it is about early detection of the potentially fatal disease.
Dapp, 56, of Muncy, is one of 10 honorees being recognized by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania as a breast cancer survivor.
She and others are sharing their stories as part of the Wilkes-Barre-based insurance company’s 13th annual Gallery of Hope available as an exhibit throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania this year.
Although a bit baffled, even embarrassed by the attention, she accepts it for what it can mean.
“If I can help one person to get through this (breast cancer), it’s worth it,” she said.
Like many women past the age of 40, Dapp regularly underwent mammograms.
In fact, it took a mammogram to detect her first breast cancer.
“There were 10 tiny spots they saw on the mammogram,” she said.
She regularly conducted self-examinations of her breasts but never found anything.
Dapp immediately was referred to Susquehanna Health’s Kathryn Candor Lundy Breast Health Center.
A biopsy turned up the cancer and Dapp underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor.
Weeks of radiation treatments followed.
Dapp, who is general manager of the East Lycoming Shopper and The Luminary newspapers, was happy to be cancer free.
A mother of two and grandmother of two, she led a busy, active life.
“It was a shock,” she recalled. “But once I got over it, I went on with my life. I didn’t want cancer to take over my life.”
Dapp continued to undergo her yearly mammogram.
As for facing cancer once again? She didn’t think so.
But in 2011 a mammogram turned up a red mark on her breast. Once again, a biopsy confirmed it as cancer.
Anyone who faces cancer is riddled with questions.
Among them: Will I survive? Why did it happen? What are the chances of having cancer again?
Dapp underwent genetic testing to see if her family had a history of breast cancer.
Many breast cancer survivors, especially those predisposed to the disease, are faced with the prospect of undergoing breast removal to safeguard against future cancer.
“I have no family history of it,” she said.
Still, Dapp made the painful decision to have a single mastectomy.
Her second bout with cancer actually was more emotionally painful than the first one. She didn’t understand why or how she could get cancer again.
These days, she’s grateful for what she has in her life.
“I always try to appreciate the people around me,” she said. “I think I appreciate that I can get up every day and go to my job.”
Dapp said her husband, Andy, always was extremely supportive through her cancer experiences, as were her children and co-workers.
She said it’s important to have such support, especially if you don’t have much strength to draw from yourself.
“You have to get in your head that you will take care of it,” she said.