Cassville woman advocates checkups

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Wanda Long, Cassville resident and financial counselor at Mercy Hospital in Cassville, works at her desk more than a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Long said early detection was key in her successful road to recovery. Kyle Troutman

Long says early detection key in good breast cancer prognosis

By Kyle Troutman

When Wanda Long was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2013, she could not believe it, going as far as asking her doctor if he was sure it was cancer.

Unfortunately for Long, the diagnosis was accurate. However, thanks to early detection and a quick turnaround between diagnosis and surgery, Long said she has a great prognosis.

"I had found a small lump in my great during a self exam," she said. "I called my doctor because I had had a mammogram recently, but we didn't notice it at that time."

Long received an ultrasound at Mercy Hospital in Cassville, where she serves as the financial counselor, and then was sent to the breast cancer center in Springfield.

"I had a biopsy done 20 days after my diagnosis," she said. "Now, I have a very good prognosis due to early detection."

A 23-year employee of the hospital, Long said she is no stranger to the effects of breast cancer, as she has seen plenty of women battling the disease coming in and out the hospital's doors.

"Statistics say seven in 10 women will face some type of breast cancer in their life," she said. "I was horrified. My best friend was diagnosed about six weeks before me, so maybe I was a tad paranoid about it."

Long said she opted for the biopsy to get the tumor removed as soon as possible, and she underwent 16 days of daily radiation treatments afterward.

Long said a big part of her recovery has been keeping things as normal as possible, even working half-days during the more than two weeks of radiation.

"I did a lot better than they expected," she said. "I didn't feel any of the tiredness or other side effects like that. The more you can stay like your normal self, the less impact it will have on your life."

Long said she also got a lot of support from her family and friends during the trying time, especially when it came to dealing with her cattle.

"My church, my family and my friends, everyone was very supportive," she said. "You always have friends, but it's amazing the outpouring of, "Can I help you with something.'" I raise cattle, so everyone was trying to jump in and take care of them. My daughter would take me to Springfield for my treatments, and my son took care of the farm-related stuff.

"My friend and I were also very close because she was going through chemotherapy at the same time I was getting radiation. She's a trooper, and we kept each other lifted up. Everyone is supportive, but you don't really understand cancer until you've been down that road, and how scared you are."

Long said before the diagnosis, she was a strong supporter of early detection, and now, she has doubled down on those efforts.

"I'm very much an advocate of early detection and regular exams," she said. "Breast cancer affects almost every person or someone in their family down the line."

Long still has to have regular checkups every six months for two years before returning to her regular doctor for annual checkups, but said she does not mind.

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