BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: Faith and friends keeps cancer survivor going

Kaitlyn Skovran/The Register

Peggy Robbins, breast cancer survivor.

It's hard to imagine someone like Peggy Robbins ever having a hard time in life. Her bubbly, happy personality is contagious, and any interaction with her is sure to leave one with a smile on their face.

But when Robbins was in her early 50s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While still working as an office manager eight hours a day, Robbins traveled to Somerset to receive radiation treatments.

About halfway through the 35 rounds of radiation, Robbins began to feel the toll as the treatments began to burn her skin.

"I got through it, though," she said.

Robbins would then go on to take a pill every day for three years to help make sure the cancer wouldn't return after the treatments were over and the cancer was gone. It was as if her life had returned to normalcy again. But when Robbins went for her annual mammogram, her world was turned upside down.

After x-rays, ultrasounds and biopsies, Robbins doctor delivered the bad news. Her breast cancer had returned in the same breast where it was found before.

"I thought, 'Oh God' when he told me that. I was just beside myself," Robbins said. "I broke down when he told me that."

With the cancer being in the same breast, removing the cancer wasn't going to be as easy as it was the first time. Even if they were able to remove the cancer, there was a possibility it could spread to the other breast.

In December 2014, Robbins underwent a double mastectomy. Recently divorced, she was worried about being able to find love again.

"I was worried no men would ever look at me again because of it (the mastectomy)," Robbins said. "But my doctor said if you find a man that has to love a woman with breasts then he ain't no man, which was encouraging to me."

Robbins was worried her new appearance would be a big deal to those around her, especially with the added chemotherapy she had to undergo. She was hopeful that she wouldn't lose her hair during the four chemo treatments, but before the second round, it already started to fall out.

"Chemo's not something I would wish on my worst enemy. I thought I was dying," Robbins said. "Everything tasted like cardboard."

But despite all of her problems, Robbins never gave up hope.

Wherever she went, she would ask for prayers and well wishes, which is what she thinks helped make her through it. Her mother also was a faithful companion throughout her turmoil.

Another great resource to Robbins was the Madison County Breast Cancer Support Group, which provided her with comfort, prayers and good food. When Robbins needed encouragement, there was always a survivor around, ready to give her the boost she needed.

Now, Robbins hopes she can do the same for someone else in need.

Robbins used to not be able to talk about her journey without becoming emotional, but now she's back to her old, bubbly self and more than happy to share her story with others.

"I used to not be able to talk about it without crying, but the good Lord has helped me. It has been a journey," she said.

Robbins said she wanted women to know not only how important it is for them to get their mammograms but also to do self breast exams. The best way to do this is by setting a regular routine to check oneself and keeping a journal to record any changes.

"If you feel the least bit that something's not right, get to the doctor," she said.

Robbins also mentioned having a healthy diet and exercise when you can.

While Robbins journey was tough, she came out on the other side with a positive attitude.

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Robbins said. "I think I'm a stronger person now than when it all happened."

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