Valerie Allen, of Johnstown, describes herself as “a jack of all trades” – and says she did not want a cancer diagnosis to affect her lifestyle.
“Nothing stopped me from doing what I wanted to do,” she says.
“Despite having breast cancer, I just wanted to be me.”
Valerie is director of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church choir, the daughter ruler of Elks Mecca Temple #294, business manager for Brothers of the Hammer motorcycle club and a caseworker for the Cambria County Assistance office.
Although busy in her life, she says she was consistent with her annual visits to her gynecologist. Year after year, her mammogram results were normal. But that all changed in 2013, when she was told something on her slides looked abnormal and further testing was recommended.
On March 4, 2013, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and was told she needed chemotherapy.
The thought of chemo scared her, but Valerie says it was not as bad as she thought it would be. It was not painful for her, nor did she get sick – only tired.
“Everybody is different and I believe that I was lucky” she says.
Valerie was diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm and made the decision to have a double mastectomy. “I can’t complain,” she says as she laughingly compliments her breasts.
She says she was cautious about telling people she had breast cancer – not because it was a secret, but because she did not want anyone to worry. “I knew I was going to live,” she says.
When she did give them the news, Valerie was blessed to have her family and best friends as a support system. “I need them just as much as they need me,” she says.
Valerie often wonders what caused her breast cancer and says the hardest thing to deal with is the uncertainty. Was the dark spot under her arm an early warning? Did the jab from a pen cause it?
Her best advice to anyone who is dealing with breast cancer is to stay positive and do what the doctor tells you – go to appointments and take your medicine.
“I did everything the doctor recommended and, as of Dec. 12, 2013, I am now free of having breast cancer,” she says.
Valerie gives God credit for her healing and realizes how blessed she is. She says she often thinks of a young woman who lost her life to breast cancer.
Betty Easter, who passed away last year, was featured on the cover of the October 2018 issue of Johnstown Magazine. Valerie says the young mother was known for her beautiful smile and great sense of humor.
“I loved her and I made sure that I talked to her, giving her my advice,” she says.
Valerie says she realizes how fortunate she is.
“For a very long time, I started all of my Facebook posts with 'Thanking God for yet another unpromised day! He didn't have to do it, but He did, and for that I'm grateful!'“I love life with all of it's trials and tribulations,” she says. “I'm blessed in spite of my thorns, God is good.”