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Heather Holladay

Breast cancer - Stage IIB

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

View CTCA treatment results for breast cancer

Video: Heather Holladay - Stage IIB Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast Cancer Survivor

No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.

Heather's journey with cancer

Overview

My story

In September 2012, I began experiencing itchy skin on my breast. At first I thought it was just dry skin and nothing to be concerned about. One night, after coming home from teaching Zumba®, I did a breast self-exam and felt a big knot on the side of my breast.

I called my gynecologist right away, and she sent me to a local breast center near our home in Montogomery, Alabama, for a biopsy and a mammogram. A couple of days later, the clinicians at the breast center informed me my tests revealed I had breast cancer. The tumor in my breast was about the size of a tennis ball.

Of course the news was devastating. My husband Trey had no idea what to do and neither did I. But I knew I had to be strong. I knew my children and my husband were going to follow my lead; they would deal with it however I dealt with it. So I made the decision to be strong and keep going.

I also felt like there was no room in my life for cancer. With two active young children and Trey and I both working full time, our family life is very busy. I teach Zumba classes part time and our family sings at our Sunday morning church service. And we love it this way! I love going to Friday night football games, taking my son to band class and my daughter to her art lessons. We have a happy, full life. In other words, I didn’t have time for cancer. I didn’t want to have to stop my life.

Treatment suited to me

Because I did not want to put my life on hold for cancer, I was hesitant to rush into a decision about my treatment. I was hoping there might be a way to treat the cancer without stopping my active life.

I had heard about Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and decided to seek a second opinion there. From the moment I walked through the door of the CTCA hospital in Newnan, Georgia, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I met with a medical oncologist, a surgeon and a radiation oncologist, and everyone wanted to know what I wanted to do. It was such a relief to be asked, and to know that I had a say in my treatment.

My CTCA care team emphasized the importance of exercise and created a treatment plan that allowed me to continue teaching Zumba. They knew I loved it, and they felt it was important for me to continue doing things I enjoy.

My treatment plan included chemotherapy and radiation therapy, followed by surgery. I worked with a naturopathic clinician, who helped reduce the side effects of the treatments. And I even started teaching Zumba classes at the hospital.

The beauty of cancer

Cancer treatment didn’t change my active life, but it did change my looks. I lost my hair and I lost weight.

At first, these side effects were difficult, but I quickly learned to embrace them, and to embrace the beauty in me that can’t be taken away by medication. I wore hats and enjoyed putting on make-up. A few new outfits made a big difference. I bought fake eyelashes, too. None of my exercise students even noticed. I added walking and biking to my exercise regimen because staying active made me feel good.

But what really mattered most when it came to coping with side effects was my attitude. I knew I couldn’t continue to worry about what other people were thinking. I had to just deal with what was happening and face it. And it got better.

Today I am enjoying my full and happy life more than ever.

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