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Cancer – It was just another season in my life

Ivy enjoys an area outdoor jazz festival
Ivy enjoys an area outdoor jazz festival
Tina Hill-Pruit

Ivy was first diagnosed with breast cancer about the same time that Farrah Fawcett was filming the documentary about her own cancer struggles in 2009.

The 47 year-old Altamonte Springs mother of one son decided she would not allow the cancer to take her down – physically or emotionally. Her specific type of cancer was adenocarcinoma with apocrine metaplasia and HER-2 positive, stage 2. Simply put, Ivy had breast cancer.

She had radical bilateral mastectomies with immediate reconstruction. This was followed by six chemotherapy treatments and 52 weeks of herceptin treatments.

“The recovery period from the mastectomies was done at home and pain free,” Ivy explained. “I worked from home four hours per day during the entire recovery and chemotherapy period which lasted from April through October, 2009.”

She also took her chemotherapy days off and a few more afterwards off due to fatigue. Dispelling one of the negative stories she had heard earlier in her treatment, Ivy experienced absolutely no nausea or vomiting after any of the treatments.

Ivy believes in a higher power, but also felt it was important to have a highly knowledgeable medical team. Ivy did ask the question “Why me Lord?” Still unsure of the answer, Ivy accepted the challenge without hesitation. She rejected the negative mindset of others feeling it was in her best interest to remain positive while placing her trust in the hands of her medical team.

Looking back, Ivy praised her medical team and is thankful for the outcome of this season in her life. “My quality of life has changed, but not from the perspective that I can do more now,” she said. “It is a mindset change. I thought I was living life to the fullest prior to my diagnosis. Now I leave no stone unturned. I have changed my eating habits and loss a total of 35-40 pounds. I enjoy going to live comedy shows and music festivals.”

While Ivy does not formally speak to those facing new cancer struggles, she is eager to share her story and felt that she could use her experiences to help and inspire others. She does it in a way that does not interfere with anyone’s personal beliefs. She does not offer medical advice, instead she may introduce methods that worked for her and urges others to ask their own medical team for the final recommendations.

“I was always taught by my mother to only worry about things I truly have control over and throw the others against that wall,” Ivy said. “I understand what she meant much better now and I worry about very little. However, where I see I can make a difference or change in my life, I go at it with full steam ahead.”