McPherson living example of early detection’s benefit
Lana McPherson has conflicted feelings about speaking Friday evening at the start of the De Soto Relay For Life.
As De Soto city clerk, McPherson will talk about the city's participation in the event during opening ceremonies, set to start at 7 p.m. Friday at the De Soto High School athletic stadium. She is also qualified to speak as a survivor, although she insisted she shouldn't be considered with other cancer survivors in the community whose hard, life-threatening experiences will be honored with a survivors' lap that will start 12 hours of marching around the track.
"There are many people who fought longer and harder than I did," she said.
Still, McPherson said her experience "was scary at the time." It left such an impression that she can recall the date she learned a biopsy indicated an immediate need for surgery.
"June 13, 1983. My life turned upside down on one phone call," she said. "I just sat on the floor and cried. I was a single mom with three little children, and now I had to call my mom and dad and tell them they needed to take care of the kids because I was going to the hospital."
The phone call came in the middle of a hectic week, which started when McPherson visited her physician.
"I hadn't been feeling myself," she said. "I was having pain in the lower abdomen. The doctor didn't like what he saw and did a biopsy."
The biopsy was done immediately, which was a clue the doctor -- the partner of her physician -- was concerned, McPherson said. Any doubts about the seriousness were removed when the physician called.
"He called 8:15 in the evening to tell me the news," she said. "That was Thursday night. He said, 'I want you in my office at 9 a.m. to go over the details. I want you in the hospital at 4 p.m. Saturday. Surgery is Monday morning.'"
It was a long, scary weekend, McPherson said. Her faith helped her through it and the recovery that followed.
"You have to have those prayer partners and a mountain of faith," she said.
Surgery was a hysterectomy, McPherson said. That was followed by one radiation treatment. It was six weeks before she recovered enough to go back to work.
It is the brevity of her treatment that makes McPherson feel unsuited to be counted among cancer survivors. As scary as it was, it didn't compare to what she watched as uterine cancer claimed her mother-in-law, Eilene McPherson, and the ravages her aunt endured before dying of breast cancer, she said.
Still, McPherson acknowledges her experience offers an important lesson. Early detection and good doctors saved her from a much worse, perhaps fatal, experience, she said.
"No one knows your body like you do," she said. "If you feel something isn't right, check it out. If you don't like what you hear, get a second opinion.