Duncansville resident Sharon Judd wouldn’t let her breast cancer diagnosis halt her daily activities.
The preschool teacher didn’t miss even a day of work at Growing In Faith Together Learning Center, in Roaring Spring, Blair County.
“I figured that I had it, I wanted rid of it, and life goes on,” Judd said.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May after being persuaded to go for a checkup.
The father of one of the children at the learning center suffered a massive stroke and he was in his early 30s, Judd said. “It was enough to scare me.”
She said the incident was a wake-up call, prompting her to make an appointment with her doctor.
Judd told her doctor she had had a mammogram because it had been more than a year since her last one.
“That’s when they found the mass,” she said.
Judd said the news of her diagnosis “totally devastated” her, but she quickly collected herself and began to accept it.
She began receiving radiation treatments following her surgery in June. Judd endured 20 daily radiation treatments before finishing them in August.
“I finished up there and I ended up going to see my oncologist the very next week,” Judd said. “He put me on a pill that I will take for the next 10 years.”
Anastrozole tablets are used to treat breast cancer in women who have gone through menopause. The tablets work by cutting down the amount of the hormone estrogen, which the body makes and is linked to causing cancer to grow faster.
Judd was told by her doctors that taking the anastrozole tablets would decrease the odds of her breast cancer’s returning.
“They told me (there’s) about a 3 to 4 percent chance of it recurring,” she said.
Judd, said the time from when she learned she had breast cancer to being prescribed a pill for it passed quickly.
“Everything fell into place real fast,” Judd said. “I got my diagnosis and two weeks later I was at the doctor’s office, two or three weeks later I’m in surgery, a month later I’m in radiation, and that was it.
“I was lucky and very fortunate because my mass was very small,” she said. “It was 6 millimeters, basically the size of a pea, so early detection really helped.”
Judd now advises other women to make sure they have a routine mammogram.
“It saves lives,” she said.
She also said having a support system is very important. Judd said she had received support from her husband, Marty, and son, Matthew, since being diagnosed in May.
“My family was awesome,” Judd said.
“My husband and my son were with me during everything. One of them is usually with me at every
Judd said no matter how her family felt, they always remained strong and never once showed how they may have been feeling.
“It was scary,” Marty Judd said. “The worst part I think was the radiation.
“But she was never really down and out, we stayed upbeat and we kept moving forward.”
Their son said it was important for him to be his mother’s biggest supporter.
“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Matthew said. “My mom was my best friend growing up, so it was kind of hard to hear that and deal with that.”
Matthew, now 21, said no matter how he felt, he was going to be there for his mother.
“Anytime she needed to vent or anything I was there – for anything she needed,” he said.
The experience helped teach him to live every day to the fullest, he said: “Every day can change in a instant.”
“I’m proud of my mom for taking down cancer,” Matthew said. “We got through the bad parts. Now we just have to be careful and move forward.”
Now that Sharon Judd is cancer-free, she goes to visit a medical oncologist every three months to see how the anastrozole pills are working. She also will visit with her radiation oncologist every six months beginning in January.
In December, she’ll go for her routine mammogram, a practice she said she’ll continue faithfully every six months.
“I’m fine,” Judd said. “The first day I found out, it hit me – it hit me hard
– but I figured I’ve got to deal with it, and I tried to stay upbeat and not let it bring me down.”