Thyroid cancer, then breast cancer: I survived, and now I can help others – Clarion Ledger

Shirley McLaurin| Guest columnist

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My breast cancer journey started over 21 years ago, June 2000, when I was just completing treatment for thyroid cancer.

I did not have time to catch my breath. I was ending one treatment just to start another.

With the thyroid cancer, I had dual treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. The radiation treatment left my throat raw and caused my esophagus to close so that I had difficulties swallowing, which is still a side effect today.

I later also had to have a tracheostomy tube because of the narrowing of my airways, another side effect of the radiation. Nevertheless, I was learning to jump thesehurdles when I got the diagnosis of breast cancer.

I was doing a routine breast self-examination when I discovered a lump in my left breast. My gynecologist confirmed the lump and referred me to Dr. William Gibson, an oncologist in Jackson.

I had a biopsy of my left breast. As a precautionary measure, he removed tissue from around my breast.

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The test came back positive, malignant.

I was devastated.

He then told me if the cancer was related to the thyroid cancer I would have to have a mastectomy. Thankfully, the cancers were unrelated.

I began seven weeks of chemotherapy. The treatment was not as aggressive as the first. At the end of the treatment, I was free of cancer.

I could not believe I was battling cancer for the second time. I, like others, did not understand at the time what was happening to me. However, I believed God was preparing me to offer hope to those who were faced with cancer and who would face cancer.

Today, I am the voice for those who cannot speak.

I am the ear for those who need someone to listen.

I am the shoulder for those to cry on and to uphold.

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I am the hands to lift to God for thanksgiving and the knees to bend in submission to God in prayer.

I am the one who knows, God is not a respecter of person.

I would like to encourage everyone who is faced with cancer to look to Jesus. Isaiah 53:5 says, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

You too can have victory over cancer. By the grace of God, I am still here.

Shirley McLaurin is employed with North Central Planning and Development District, Area Agency On Aging in Mississippi as a program coordinator. She is married to Gregory McLaurin, and they have one son, Gregory Ryan.

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Thyroid cancer, then breast cancer: I survived, and now I can help others - Clarion Ledger

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