Since 2000, breast cancer survivors have shared their stories on a traveling Gallery of Hope to encourage other women to get tested for early detection. This year, a Montoursville resident shared her story.
Jayne Reynolds was in the shower when she found a lump on her left breast, 16 years ago.
An aunt on both sides of her family had breast cancer, and one of them had died from it.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
From left, Jennifer Deemer, grant and program specialist with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, based in Wilkes-Barre; Jayne L. Reynolds, a cancer survivor who originally was diagnosed in April 1996; and Robin Dawson, an educator and registered nurse at The Life Center in the Lycoming Mall stand in front of The Blue Cross’ Gallery of Hope on May 9.
Reynolds immediately called her doctor. She explained what she found and her family history. The doctor saw her that afternoon.
She had a biopsy done and the following week, she had surgery scheduled. A few weeks later, she started chemotherapy, which continued for three months plus three additional rounds.
She has been clean ever since.
"My doctor said I would look back at this as (nothing more than) an inconvenience," she said. "He was right."
She considers herself very fortunate to live in Lycoming County where there are knowledgeable doctors in the field because at the time she found the lump, she was supposed to take care of her 1-month-old grandson.
While in treatment, she could not watch him, but she set a goal to see him grow up.
It was her family and friends that helped her get through the difficult time.
"I had good family support," Reynolds said. "My family was all supportive."
She also prayed and listened to her doctors.
"They know better than me," she said.
Advanced technology over the years also helped.
"We've come a long way from my aunt in 1959," Reynolds said.
As time goes on, she does not think about her time battling the cancer as much as she once did, nor does she continue to attend the support group she once did. However, she still talks to people with cancer to give them hope.
Hearing about those who have survived cancer helps people who currently are afflicted believe "that can be me," she said.
The Gallery of Hope, which is a program of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, is one way to let people know they are not alone.
"My sister nominated me (for the Gallery of Hope)," she said. "I don't mind telling my story. I like telling it. I'm a survivor."
The gallery goes to the 13 counties Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania covers and shares the stories of women from those counties, said Jennifer R. Deemer, grant and program specialist.
"It's our way of helping Williamsport and all of Lycoming County and the rest of our service area," she said. "These women were brave enough to share their stories with us. Their stories are the inspiration for others."
The gallery travels to hospitals, libraries, universities and cancer awareness events, wherever people request it to go. On May 9, it stopped at The LifeCenter in the Lycoming Mall.
Early detection is the key to fighting breast cancer, Deemer said. Reynolds agreed.
"My biggest tip is early diagnosis," Reynolds said. "If you find a lump, don't wait."