A Survivor's Story: Lisa Fudjack

October 12, 2010 

  • In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette will be featuring the first-person story of a breast cancer survivor each Tuesday during October.

This week, Lisa Fudjack of Hilton Head Island tells her story.

It was Oct. 3 of last year (when I first suspected I had breast cancer). It was a Saturday, so I had to worry about it all weekend. I called my gynecologist and moved forward from there. I was diagnosed on Oct. 15.

I was terrified. It doesn't run in my family. I'm sorry to admit that I didn't do self-exams. I was lucky that I felt it when I did. At first, it was denial. This isn't happening to me. Then when I had the sonogram done, the technician spent a long time doing a lot of pictures. Then I knew something was wrong. It was a downward spiral from there. When I met with Dr. (Virginia) Herrmann (of Hilton Head Hospital), I said, "Just tell me. I have breast cancer." She said, "Yes."

It took me a long time to come to terms with it. But once I did I realized that I had to keep a positive attitude. So much has to do with your attitude.

I had a double mastectomy with a reconstruction. I went through chemotherapy. Now I go to the regular doctor visits to make sure it doesn't come back.

(The mastectomy) was a combination of my thoughts and Dr. Herrmann and Dr. (Robert) Laughlin, who was my plastic surgeon. There were concerns about my right breast, too. The lump was in my left. I thought, "I don't want to live like this. I don't want to keep worrying. Just take them both." Losing your hair and whatnot was difficult. Thank god for wigs.

I do feel lucky that I did make it. I'm lucky I had wonderful doctors. I had the support of family and friends. To some degree it'll always be in the back of my mind. I always thought I'd go from a heart attack or a stroke, because there's a history in my family. You go from never thinking about it to having it always in the back of your head

It's not like lung cancer where you can say, "Maybe I should quit smoking." It's not like you can say, "Don't do this any more." It's frustrating. It's tough, the unknown.

I've bought several wigs. One's wild cherry red. That's just for fun. None of it is fun really, but it's about your attitude. I'd go do chemo. So many people looked like they were ready to die. I just tried to be upbeat. That's how I go through it.

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