When Cathy Payne was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, her first question wasn’t, “Why me?”
It was, “How are we going to fix this?”
Because she is younger than the suggested age to begin yearly mammograms, Payne actually discovered the lump herself during a routine breast self-exam. As a Parkland Health Center employee, Payne knew she was in good hands. She started working at PHC six years ago in patient registration, later worked in the emergency department and is now a patient access representative.
Her work experience gave her a unique perspective on her diagnosis. “Working in the ED, I saw people who were very, very sick,” she says. “So my perspective was, ‘I’m not sick, I just have cancer.’”
Payne went through a robust course of treatment — five months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, 26 radiation treatments, and then reconstruction surgery followed by maintenance chemotherapy.
She says the Parkland Cancer Center is a friendly place. “Many patients see each other on a daily basis and get to know each other — talking, sharing stories, sharing recipes,” she says. “The volunteers play a huge role. They get to know the patients and the families who bring them to treatment. It becomes a little family in itself.”
Payne definitely had her low times, when she felt like giving up. “The support I got from my family, my work family and the nurses was huge in keeping me going,” she says. “It kept me fighting and allowed me tobe so positive.”
When the Parkland Cancer Center moved to its current location in Farmington this past summer, Payne was chosen to cut the ribbon at the grand opening. “I was so honored to be chosen,” she says. “Out of all of the patients who have come and gone from our cancer center, I was very touched that they chose me. After the phone call, I cried.”
Payne is quick to encourage others and speaks freely about her experience. “Cancer is different for everyone,” she says. “You can’t say, ‘I have exactly what she had, and I want to do what she did.’ Cancer is individual. But if something I did can encourage or give others confidence, then I want them to know.”
Payne has words of wisdom for other women. “If you think there is something abnormal, even if it’s the tiniest thing, don’t be scared to go in and ask. It may be nothing; it could be something. But cancer is just a word like diabetes or COPD — these are things that can be treatable. Things have changed so much; nowadays, it is beatable, it is doable.”
BJC’s partnership with The Face & The Body
The Face & The Body has partnered with BJC for the 17th year to increase awareness about breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
A longtime Help for Your Health partner, The Face & The Body also offers BJC employees a Spa Rewards membership and 10% off Med Spa services and laser hair removal year-round.
For more information, go to faceandbodyspa.com.