Finding a cure now...so our daughters won't have to.

Survivor Spotlight – Heather Vail

Posted By on April 13th, 2012 at 9:02 am | 0 comments.

I attended my first PBCC conference in 2001 when my good friend Helen Harshbarger was honored with the Shining Light award. Through Helen, I also became involved with the PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit. Then in 2006 my routine mammogram uncovered a density. I had a biopsy, just to be sure it was nothing to be concerned about but as it turned out, it was breast cancer. I had surgery, radiation, and was on tamoxifen for the next five years.

I had worked in the women’s center at Guthrie Hospital for quite some time, but until you’ve walked in those shoes yourself you really don’t know what it’s like. I was always supportive of patients and friends but being on the receiving end of that support showed me how important that is.

One of my two sons was in Iraq at the time of my diagnosis and I didn’t tell him about it. I didn’t want him worrying about me while I was worrying about him. My other son, my husband, my daughter-in-law, friends and neighbors were wonderful! Faith in God helped me get through surgery and recovery.

Now I work in the breast center at Guthrie, and one of the things I enjoy most is stepping in for Karen Cartwright, the nurse navigator, when she’s not available. I take the patient’s history, ask them how they are doing, and let them know that I’ve been through it too.

I like to read, walk my two rescue dogs, and work in my garden. My husband Red and I also have a 12 year-old cat that dislikes everyone and tolerates the dogs. I follow professional football and am an avid Penn State fan. I also watch “Dancing with the Stars,” and I actually vote!

Heather is featured in the PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania.  See Heather’s photo and quote at any of our Spring opening receptions.

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