Six years ago, Terri Monroe never imagined being diagnosed with cancer.
Monroe, a Crosslake resident, had no family history of cancer and was considered low risk. But she found a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I was surprised with my knowledge in the medical field that I had a lot to learn regarding research options available," said Monroe, who is the nurse manager at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. "My chances of cancer were very low.
"A friend of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer and I felt fortunate that I didn't have a family history of cancer and my chances of cancer were slim to none. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer."
Once diagnosed with cancer, Monroe became involved as a participant and an organizer with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life, an event to raise money for cancer patients.
This year she was named the 2004 honorary chair of the overnight event. The 12th annual Relay For Life will be 7 p.m. July 30 at Don Adamson Field in Brainerd. The field will be surrounded by luminaries that will be lighted in memory and in honor of cancer patients. Teams of eight to 15 members will take turns walking the track during the event.
Monroe said she was honored to be named a honorary chair and to be recognized as a survivor. She said the Relay For Life is a chance for the community to come together and to celebrate the cancer survivors and the ones who have died.
Monroe said this type of support is important when you have cancer. When she was diagnosed with cancer she received a lot of support from family, friends, co-workers and from church members.
For five years, Monroe said she took an anti-cancer drug called tamoxifen. She said the drug helped and she remained cancer free. Seven months later in November 2002 after being off the drug, Monroe was rediagnosed with cancer.
"I went to the doctor for a backache and I found out I had cancer again," said Monroe.
If you go
What: American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
When: 7 p.m. July 30.
Where: Don Adamson Field behind Brainerd High School.
Purpose: To raise money for the fight against cancer.
How money is raised: Each team raises a minimum of $100, through donations, fund-raising events or by selling luminaries at $10 a bag.
Monroe went through the regular chemotherapy and radiation for treatment. She began losing her hair and weight and became tired.
Monroe, who was quite active, had to give up a lot because of her cancer. She stepped down as secretary for the Brainerd Rotary Club, decreased her church activities and her hours at work. She also limited her family events, such as hosting Christmas.
Monroe began researching treatments for cancer and she decided to take Hercepton, a relatively new drug.
"Other women were doing well on it and I've been on it for a year and a half," said Monroe. "I do not feel like a dying woman. It (the drug) helps keep the cancer under control."
Monroe said today she deals with her cancer one day at a time. Her advice to others who become diagnosed with cancer is that there is hope. She said there are a lot of resources and options for treatment.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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