Posted by Divya Sathyanarayanan
For Yvette Boyce, being diagnosed with cancer seemed impossible. Following a healthy lifestyle, Boyce, Director of Women and Children Services at CHA HPMC, was convinced that her chances of developing breast cancer were slim. “I have raised six daughters and breastfed them all. I never consumed alcohol and exercised regularly,” she says.
In October 2005, Boyce was in between raising six kids and working a full-time job—there was no time to deal with cancer. After a nudge from her younger sister—a stage 1 breast cancer survivor, she scheduled a mammogram. Boyce and her family was shocked when the mammogram results showed stage 1 invasive cancer—which meant the cancer could spread into the nearby lymph nodes and beyond. “I was really worried and developed a sense of fear—will I be here to care for my husband and six daughters?”
With the support of her family and friends, Boyce began the treatment process and started chemotherapy. “Chemotherapy was really tough and it made me emotional. Sometimes, I started crying and vomiting even before entering the session,” she says. Side effects of chemotherapy—hair loss, fatigue, and vomiting—took a toll on her. “I confined myself in the house and didn’t step out. My husband was really caring and understood my pain. To cheer me up, he bought me DVDs of my favorite movies which I could watch at home,” she says.
Even during the strenuous treatment process, Boyce stayed positive and believed “there is life after cancer.” She was determined to overcome the disease and get back to her family and work. Boyce underwent bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries to avoid living with the fear that the cancer could rebound.
After surviving breast cancer, Boyce wanted to share her journey with more women battling the disease and encourage them to be strong to overcome fear. “The nurse/mom in me comes out every time I speak with someone going through the same journey. Cancer may be a part of your life, but you can overcome the worst with a strong support system and positive attitude,” she says.
Today, Boyce is cancer free and leads an active lifestyle. “I do 13-mile bike trails every weekend and stay active,” she says. Cancer changed her life and now Boyce wants to help others along their journey to recovery.