Name: Tonya Hughes
Type: Breast cancer
Date of Diagnosis: August 2005
Progress: In remission
Treatment center: OU Health Sciences Center
“Of course it’s very scary because the first thing that you think is that you’re going to die,” Tonya Hughes said before excusing herself from the phone in a breaking voice to close her office door.
Being in remission doesn’t mean it’s easier to talk about, she said. After being diagnosed, doctors tried performing a lumpectomy but they couldn’t get all of the cancer, she said. They couldn’t on a second try either, so Hughes had a double mastectomy plus both chemotherapy and radiation because the cancer was close to her chest wall. “We did everything,” she said.
“I had really good support from my family and friends. As a matter of fact my friends came over a few times and cleaned my house and brought me dinner, ... came to chemotherapy with me.” In addition, she attended a support group at the OU Breast Institute and said her parents helped her financially.
She said she actually was able to work throughout most of her treatment — “I’m not saying that it wasn’t hard but it can be done.” She said new medications to prevent nausea and other developments have helped change the way women progress through their treatments.
Before being diagnosed with cancer, Hughes worked for eight years in an intensive care unit. Hughes said she wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not to be inside the health field as a cancer patient.
“Sometimes as health care professionals we know a little too much — sometimes it tends to be scarier,” she said.
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