First in a series.
After months of pain and distress a local woman found out this month (breast cancer awareness month) that she beat the disease.
Lisa Hoskins, 38, of Middlesboro, is a strong mother of three. She was in disbelief when she was told that a painless lump on her breast was actually breast cancer.
“I crossed my arms one day and felt the lump on my breast. I decided to let it go for about two months and finally decided to get it checked out. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I had cancer,” says Hoskins. “I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear when I went to the doctor because when Dr. Thomas did the first biopsy it came back negative. He decided to remove the lump and send it off and that’s when it came back positive for cancer. I actually went to the doctor alone for the check up because I figured it was something minor and that emotional support wouldn’t be needed. Boy, was I wrong.”
Hoskins said breast cancer runs in her family, and her cousin was diagnosed when she was in her 20s — she is a survivor as well.
“Not only did the doctor tell me I had breast cancer, but I was also told that it is very possible that it has already spread to my lymph nodes as well,” Hoskins adds. “They said when it spreads to your lymph nodes there is about a 20-25 percent survival rate, so I literally thought I was about to die.”
Hoskins said she’s had three surgeries and during her second one the doctor took out four of her lymph nodes. They ended up being negative for cancer.
“After my initial shock was over I decided to be responsible and make a will and get my life in order. I also decided to tell my kids about my disease,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins has a daughter, Paige, that is 17, a son, Bryson, 11, and a daughter, Olivia, 4.
“I don’t think Bryson really understood what was going on, he just knew that his mom was sick,” says Hoskins. “My oldest daughter has been my number one fan. Paige of course cried when she found out and I cried with her. The first words out of her mouth were, ‘I don’t want you to die mom.’ My youngest daughter is one in her own. Of course she didn’t understand what was going on but the emotional support from her was unreal.”
She said the thing that affected her the most was losing her hair.
“I knew it was real after my hair started falling out and then the depression started,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins thought it would scare her 4 year old daughter, Olivia when her hair started falling out, but it did the complete opposite.
“Olivia would constantly tell me how beautiful I was after my hair fell out,” adds Hoskins. “She would always ask me does my head hurt and would offer to wash it and rub it for me to make me feel better. After I got my wigs she would constantly remind me how pretty they looked, and was always complimenting me on my lowest days, and it really gave me the motivation to fight this disease,” Hoskins said. “After all my hair was gone, my self esteem was gone with it. I didn’t feel like a woman anymore and found myself taking it out on everyone around me. Cancer not only affects the person diagnosed, it affects their family and friends too.”
She said her fiance’, John Epperson, has been there for her every step of the way.
“He had to start a full time job since I couldn’t work anymore and he is also a full time student,” Hoskins adds. “He never missed one appointment and has always stayed positive. He held my hand the entire time and he doesn’t realize just how thankful I am. He really was meant to be in my life.”
Epperson said, “going through this disease with her has really made me a better person. With me being so involved in martial arts I have always felt like I was able to protect the people I loved. I felt helpless in trying to protect Lisa against the cancer, so I just decided to handle it a different way and stay positive.”
“Just because I beat the cancer doesn’t mean it’s over. I have other health issues now that I never had before I got cancer that will always affect me now,” Hoskins adds. “I still have to get mammograms every three months and check ups, but in the end I’m just happy to be alive.”
Hoskins said she trusted in the Lord.
“The biggest thing I learned from this whole experience was don’t take life for granted and to trust in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. Life is too short to hold grudges and be mad all the time. Going through something like this really puts in perspective the value of life and how short it can be,” said Hoskins. “My advice to all women is to start checking for lumps or abnormalities in your breasts early in life. Even though they recommend you get annual mammograms starting when you turn 40, I think you should start sooner because it could save your life.”
Chase Smith is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.