Featured Survivor

Joyce Gornick’s story, Breast cancer

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Survivor since 2004…

It was March 18th, 2004, a brilliant day. A few weeks before that, I had seen Dr. Paul Salmen. He asked me if I had done a mammogram with someone else. I said, “no. You’re my Doc!” He informed me that I hadn’t had one for four years. I was too busy running my flower shop, Joy-Ann Creations, Inc. If was going great guns. I was trying very hard. Lots of long hours. I had some help, but not over abundanced by any means. He and I talked about it, and Nichole walked in with an appointment. I didn’t have a choice! Of course, being Joyce, I canceled the appointment. Something took priority. That’s usually the way my life goes. I did, however, make another one.

It was a couple of weeks later. I went in at 8:30 a.m. Cindy did the mamo. This was on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, a.m. Cindy called. She asked me to return on Thursday. They were not please with the pictures. I agreed. We joked. I showed up at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. That was the brilliant day of March 18, 2004! My life was due to change. I just didn’t know it! I was diagnosed on the spot with a possible Lobuale Carcinoma, left breast, under my arm. This was very close to the lymph nodes.

They proceeded to call Dr. Ross. I saw him for an ultrasound on Friday a.m. He confirmed that the diagnosis was suspicious. He scheduled me for a biopsy, and, as it turned out, surgery early Monday a.m. When he got in, he saw it. He removed what he could. The next Monday, I was back to remove more tissue, check the lymph nodes,etc. The following Monday, I was back. Some lymphs were removed. Thank the Dear Lord, they were not infected. I ended up having a lumpectomy, some nodes removed, and was set up for eight and one-half weeks of radiation. I am extremely medicine unfriendly. Dr. Paul calls me his “Pharmaceutical Dilemma!” We were trying the radiation first.

In between all of this, our Daughter, Juliann, was scheduled to be married on April 24th, in Maui, Hawaii. Oh boy, did that put a damper on things. With Joy-Ann Creations, Inc., I had 32 weddings planned for that season, March through December. I was in shock, I’m sure! My Family and I went in to see Dr. Jaffery. He assured me that all would be well. Dr. Ross said, “You’ll be ready to go to Hawaii, but I must do the surgery. We can put off the radiation until May. We cannot put off the surgery. For the first time in my life, I really did not have control. I had no choice.

The sequence of events were, three surgeries, my daughter’s wedding, which I was determined to do, after all, over a course of about 15 years, I had done hundreds of wedding, and now to not be able to do my own daughter’s? This was not an option in my life! I did it all!

On May 5th, I began radiation. At first it was okay. As the time passed, I was leaving the shop at 2 p.m. each day, driving to Edwards, sometimes with just me and my dog, Turner Malone, not realizing how important this was! Turner was my “Flower Dog!” He spent each day with me, until late day, when Joe, my husband, would pick him up. Oh boy, he was a loyal partner, and my best friend. He watched me cry right by my side, he tried to make me smile, when he sensed I was not doing so well, and as in the picture, he gave a howl of, “We’re OK!” I still had a business to run. I had people to service, brides to please, everyday happenings, etc. I was way too busy to do this! However, those fine folks at Shaw Regional Cancer Center, Edwards, Colorado, are on top of it all. There was Andy, he scheduled my appointments. If I called to cancel, it was No! No! See you at 3 p.m. The crew was great. Dr. Hardenberg is very concerned, accurate, still seeing me, now once a year. I was in denial, however. I have had many different surgeries and illnesses in my lifetime, but none quite as serious as this one.

Well, I made it though! Several family members and friends helped me through the rough times. I completed all of the treatment, did 32 weddings that year, including our Daughter’s and our Son, Jim’s. I don’t remember a lot of the happenings. I think I was in a fog most of the time.

My shop had to be sold. I needed to slow down, so they told me. I did that, but I’m not sure about the slowing down. I don’t do that well!

I just saw Dr. Hardenberg in November, 2008. After taking several pictures, she and Dr. Ugarri, graduated me to the next step. It will be five years on March 18th. It has been quite a trip! I still have some down times, but overall, I thank God for helping guide me to better health.

Our dog, Turner, is getting older, now. He has had quite a life. My husband, Joe, had open heart surgery in 2001. Turner was his life saver. He would, everyday during his recovery, ask to go for a walk. Just as if he knew it was necessary. He and Joe had a front page picture in the Post Independent, labeled, “Dog Walks Master Back to Health!” He was with us every step of the way. We are now there for him, as he approaches 16 years old, having some eye problems. He still loves to romp and play with our new dog, Scherlok, a Miniature Schnauzer. Scherlok is sure fun for him. We are glad we got him for Turner. All is going great. A few bumps in the road, but over all, we’re living life. As I said, “Life is a painting…choose your colors and create it well!”

Joyce Louise Gornick and Turner Malone, My “Bud”
(Joyce still doing well. Turner passed away July 2, 2009 at age 17 years.)

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