Valdosta Daily Times

October 15, 2012

Though not a shock, breast cancer brought survivor some surprises

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

MORVEN — Cindy Tucker always cut husband Greg’s hair. Diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing the devastating effects of chemotherapy, her hair starting to fall out, Cindy Tucker decided to take control of how she lost her hair.

On that occasion, Greg Tucker cut his wife’s hair.

Cindy Tucker’s breast cancer diagnosis did not come as a shock to her.

In the mid-2000s, she noticed a cyst on her chest. For three years, doctors regularly kept an eye on the cyst and checked for the possibility of breast cancer. Tucker underwent a series of biopsies.

In July 2009, she had a biopsy in Atlanta. A few days later, the phone rang. She learned of the breast cancer diagnosis and doctors asked what Tucker wanted to do. After three years of such tests, the results were different, but she felt ready for this possibility.

“It wasn’t such a big shock,” Tucker says.

Though breast cancer was diagnosed on the side opposite of the original cyst, she opted to have a bilateral mastectomy. Six months of chemotherapy then radiation followed.

She had a great deal of support.

She grew up in Valdosta. She attended Lowndes High then graduated in 1982 from Georgia Christian School. She attended Val-Tech, which is now Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, studying draftsmanship.

She has a son, Ryan Fornes, 25, and two grandchildren, Bryce and Casyn. She and Greg Tucker have been married about eight years, she says. They live in Morven.

They were in the process of moving to their current home when she received the breast cancer diagnosis. She had noticed a new sensation while shoveling at the location, what felt like a knot in her left side.

So, again, with that knowledge, with the series of biopsies during three years, with the cyst on her right side, the diagnosis was not a shock, even though the cancer diagnosis came on the left side.

But it was surprising, given the vigilance of those biopsies, that cancer developed so quickly, that a lump like a knot was suddenly there. Still, it was caught early. Though a large lump, it was stage 1.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I would be dead now if I wasn’t being checked regularly,” Tucker says.

So, after the mastectomy, but during chemotherapy, with her head shaved, Tucker never wore wigs. Her aunt Janice Berger crocheted caps for Tucker to wear. Berger crocheted so many caps that she donated several to the Pearlman Comprehensive Cancer Center. Tucker says the caps were not a “vanity thing. They kept my head warm.” She wore the caps, scarves and bandanas.

Though cancer free now, Tucker still has blood work every three months. But that’s OK. She has a new lease on life.

“I just knew I was not going to let it beat me,” Tucker says. “It does change your life.”