After Janet Maldet’s 44-year-old son Jason died in 2016, his three young children found a new home inside her home.

So, when the Conemaugh Township woman learned she had breast cancer in April, her mind turned to them.

“I remember praying, ‘Please, Lord. Don’t take me yet. Not now,’ ” Maldet recalled. “I have three kids I gotta raise.”

Six months later, Maldet said life is back to normal at their busy Country Club Road home – and the Conemaugh Township grandmother said she has God, family and a dedicated medical staff at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center to thank.

‘Devastating’ news

Maldet said she never expected she’d be battling cancer back in March.

She went for a mammography as a routine precaution, admitting two years had lapsed since her previous check-up.

Then Dr. Trudy Brown delivered the news.

“I just kinda froze – and sat there for a moment,” she said. “I remember asking her, ‘Are you sure about this?’ ”

Next to her, the news hit her husband, Tom, like a punch in the stomach, he recalled.

“I was devastated,” said Tom Maldet, her husband of 53 years. “I was immediately sick in the stomach.”

But the couple pressed on – and prayed through every step of the way, they said.

Support, inner-strength

An ultrasound confirmed Maldet had stage 2 cancer in her right breast and surgery followed in late May.

The disease was caught early enough that Maldet didn’t need chemotherapy.

But she had to have 20 treatments of radiation from late June through July 25.

Oftentimes, the after-effects left her with a deep “penetrating” burning sensation – but Maldet said she never considered quitting.

“It was so much easier going back because of the way I was treated. The people at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center were wonderful,” she said.

Tom Maldet said he’ll never forget his wife’s strength and determination through the process.

“She’s the bravest person I know,” he said. “She cried once ... when she got the news. And then she went through the whole thing with flying colors.”

‘There’s always hope’

Today, life is “back to normal” in Janet Maldet’s home.

Her calendar is primarily filled with her grandkids’ after-school activities, she said with a laugh, while waiting for the trio to return home from school.

But she said she recognizes the battle isn’t altogether over.

She takes a cancer-fighting medication daily and will continue that regimen for the next five years.

Another follow-up appointment with her medical doctors, and there will be continued follow-up ultrasounds to ensure the disease doesn’t return.

“Cancer is such an ugly thing,” she said.

But it’s also beatable, she said.

“My message to anyone in my position is that there’s always hope,” she said. “Don’t give up hope – and let prayer and doctors guide you. Trust them to see you through it.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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