“Cancer is scary, and I am forever changed by its mark on me. But I feel fortunate to have a loving family, supportive network of friends, and an even more gracious God who sustained me through it all. Thank you to Logansport Memorial Hospital and the entire cast of caring characters – Dr. Martin, Dr. Hall, Dr. Harwood, Dr. Marvel, the wonderful nurses, radiation technicians and lab personnel, and so many more – who gave me what I needed right here at home.”
Joyce Eshelman was leading a normal, fulfilled life in the spring of 2014. Actually, it was a little busier than normal… her only daughter, Katy, was getting married and she was in full wedding-planning mode. Somehow, she was finding time to continue taking care of herself, which included getting her routine mammogram. When she got the news that she had breast cancer, she was just six weeks away from her daughter’s wedding. Cancer was not on the guest list.
“I remember sitting in the dressing room as Dr. David Martin and the mammogram nurse came back in to talk to me,” recalls Joyce. “Dr. Martin had just finished explaining to me that I needed to have a stereotactic biopsy to look more closely at some suspicious things showing up on my expanded mammogram and breast ultrasound. He was using words like ‘fibroadenoma, biopsy, and microcalcifications’ and then started talking about getting something scheduled right away. He went on to say that ‘statistics are in my favor’ and that ‘80% are benign.’ Was he telling me I might have a tumor… or cancer?”
Joyce sat in shock and disbelief, unable to completely process what was happening in that moment. “I heard him saying the words, but my mind was racing. I just wanted to get out of there and go home.” But Dr. Martin, who is also a family friend, mentioned something about Katy’s upcoming wedding near the end of the visit… and then, it hit home. “I just started to cry. Not sobbing, just tears coming down my cheeks. I was thinking, ‘I have to find a surgeon and I need a biopsy as soon as possible. But the wedding is in six weeks!’ I didn’t have time for this, and it was very overwhelming,” she says.
She gathered herself together and walked immediately to the Women’s Health Center to make an appointment with Dr. James Hall. “I had never met him, but many of my close friends spoke highly of him, and he has some impressive credentials regarding breast cancer and treatment options. I didn’t realize someone of his caliber practiced at our local hospital, but I’m so glad he does,” comments Joyce. “The stereotactic biopsy procedure was scheduled within three days, so things were happening fast. I had the procedure, and then Dr. Hall said I should hear something within another few days. I got the call from his office on May 19, and that’s when they confirmed it was cancer.
So where to go from here? Joyce needed a plan. “Talking with Dr. Hall eased my uncertainty,” says Joyce. “I tell you, the waiting is the hardest part. Not knowing and thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ can scare you to death. But having a plan backed by research that’s being carried out in trustworthy hands can ease many fears. I had spent my waiting time reading about all the possibilities… I was ready for my realities.”
Joyce received her treatment here – the mammograms and ultrasounds, procedures and surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She is so grateful she didn’t have to travel far to receive exceptional care, and it allowed her family to be with her every step of the way. “My husband Dave was my rock, through it all. I know I couldn’t have made it through this journey without him. My kids, Karl and Katy, helped as much as possible… in good and in bad times for me. They watched as I was trying to be strong for them… they embraced that motherly instinct of mine and let me do that, being strong right back for me,” she remembers.
Not only did Joyce have her family’s support, but she also had a network of “prayer warriors” whom she kept informed over the course of her journey. She journaled about her cancer experiences and shared her story with loved ones near and far who wondered about her well-being and progress.
So what’s next for Joyce? She is now cancer-free and enjoying her newest grandbaby… her daughter Katy delivered their first child at the end of May. “I spent eight months of my life in 2014 dealing with doctors, surgeries, chemo and radiation treatments, lab reports, and the whirlwind of emotions that hit you throughout the journey,” notes Joyce. “Cancer is scary, and I am forever changed by its mark on me. But I feel fortunate to have a loving family, supportive network of friends, and an even more gracious God who sustained me through it all. Thank you to Logansport Memorial Hospital and the entire cast of caring characters – Dr. Martin, Dr. Hall, Dr. Harwood, Dr. Marvel, the wonderful nurses, radiation technicians and lab personnel, and so many more – who gave me what I needed right here at home.” Thank YOU to Joyce for the privilege of taking care of you and for choosing us as your hospital.