LAURINBURG — Three years ago this month, Becca Hughes got the news no one ever wants to hear. She had cancer.
Hughes found a lump in her breast, so she went through the steps of getting it looked at and biopsied to determine if it was, in fact, cancer. Despite not knowing for sure until the biopsy came in, many of the doctors and professionals believed what she had was serious.
“When you find a lump in your breast it’s terrifying, because you don’t know what it is,” Hughes said. “You hope that it’s nothing but it could be something.”
The life-changing diagnosis brought on uncertainty and apprehension as she began her treatment at the Scotland Cancer Center in November 2015, and, if anything, Hughes said her experience was a positive one rather than a horror story that some people tell with chemotherapy and other treatments.
“I used to joke and say I got to have it all — because I had chemotherapy, I had a lumpectomy, I had to have a mastectomy and then I had to have radiation,” Hughes said. “Everything went well, I never had to postpone a treatment because my numbers were down, I never threw up a single time, I never missed a day of work other than when I got my chemo when I was in the hospital — but I never missed a day of work because I felt bad.”
Not only was Hughes’ experience with the hospital and its workers positive, but she also was humbled by the amount of support she received from the local community.
“I did not hide my cancer but I also didn’t post on Facebook about having it and about treatments, so there was this middle of the road,” Hughes said. “But I kept people informed and it was just amazing what people would do.”
On her days of treatment, she would get texts from people wishing her luck, and people who would bring her food and there were even strangers telling her they were praying for her.
One example of the support Hughes got was signs dedicated to her during the Scotland Memorial Foundation’s Fund Run, each with varying messages encouraging her.
“Being in a small town and a tight-knit community when you go through something like this, those examples are I think the advantages,” Hughes said.
After ending treatment and being cleared of the cancer, Hughes didn’t spend her time worrying about if the cancer would come back or not. Instead, she got even more involved in the community by helping and co-chairing the Fund Run, working with the hospital foundation and being a part of the Health Care System board.
“When you’re going through cancer treatment and you live with the ‘is it going to come back’ thoughts, it would be easy to get pretty self-absorbed and I don’t think that’s healthy,” Hughes said. “So by giving back and helping others you don’t get self-absorbed and you realize you can make a difference in someone else’s life, just like someone made a difference in yours, and I think that’s really important.”
She also agrees that early detection is key, as studies have shown early detection can help the change of survival and that going to the doctor and getting tests done is extremely important to finding cancer early. Not only is finding cancer early important, but so is having quality care, and Hughes said that’s exactly what she got from the Scotland Cancer Center — and why she continues to work with the health care system as a whole.
“I think the health care system is such a vital organization to the community,” Hughes said. “Making sure we offer quality care and helping sustain that is really important to me.”
In the end, she has one piece of advice for those going through treatment and those who are in post-treatment: always have a positive attitude.
“Attitude doesn’t save your life it certainly saves your quality of life,” she said, “and having a positive attitude and a fighter attitude and a helping others attitude just improves your quality of life when you’re going through and then after you go through all this.”
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]