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The Survivor in Me: Grubbs chooses faith over fear in cancer battle

(Note: This is part three of a four-part series. For part four of The Survivor in Me, don’t miss next week’s edition.)

One week before turning 43, Lora Grubbs was leaving for the Bahamas for her birthday when she discovered a lump on her right breast.

Unsure of what it could be and fearing for the worst, Grubbs made an appointment at the Harlan County Health Department to get examined, where the doctor ordered a mammogram.

“I went for the mammogram and they saw a mass and ordered an ultrasound. I followed up with Dr. Butt two days later for my results, and he ordered a biopsy on my right breast and lymph node,” Grubbs said.

For two weeks, Grubbs waited on her results to come back, praying it wasn’t what she feared: breast cancer. But when she went to her follow-up appointment on March 17, she said she got the dreaded news that the lump was cancerous.

“I immediately started to cry, but just for a brief moment, and then I asked, ‘What do we need to do?’ He walked me over to see the oncologist that day and he explained my diagnosis,” she said. “I had stage two  invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast. I was also ER+/PR+, HERS negative. My oncologist started my chemo within five days. I did eight chemo treatments, one every other day.”

Although her first two treatments took their toll on Grubbs’ body, making her nauseous until doctors prescribed her medication, she said she continued to keep an appetite and had energy despite losing her hair to the treatments.

Grubbs finished her last chemo treatment on July 1 and then took a week to enjoy herself at the beach.

“I had to wait four weeks before I could have my surgery. I also tested positive for the CHEK2 cancer gene, so I decided on a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction,” she said.

Being alone in the hospital at her time of surgery wasn’t an easy thing to swallow, as Grubbs knew what challenges lie ahead.

After a surgery that lasted 19.5 hours, she developed a hematoma on her right breast three hours into recovery, causing an additional surgery. As more complications developed with her breast reconstruction that continued to cut off blood flow, doctors ultimately had to remove her breasts again.

“I thank God for watching over me during surgery and my entire cancer journey. I put it in God’s hands and I prayed for his will to be done,” she said. “There was a reason why my reconstruction failed and I’m fine with that. I think God has a reason for everything.”

Taking it one day at a time and maintaining a positive attitude doesn’t come natural to some, but Grubbs said she kept her head up and tried not to get too “down” over her battle with cancer.

Grubbs has begun her 30 rounds of radiation treatments, where she said sometimes she thinks about the “what ifs” and tears up at the thought.

With three children at home, she hopes to defeat her cancer and watch them grow up, start families and be there for all of their achievements in life.

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