“It was a bad chapter in my life, but cancer doesn’t scare me.”
By ELLYN SANTIAGO
Lacey Irons was 46 when, following a mammogram in 2020, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It runs in her family. Both her mother and grandmother had postmenopausal ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS, and both survived it.
The timing of her diagnosis, ductal, triple positive, HER2 positive, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, meant her surgery and treatment was initially postponed. She decided that, while one breast had cancer, she’d have them both removed. After surgery, her surgeon said she made the right decision, as her other breast was not healthy, she said, and showed signs of cancer cells growing.
After surgery, a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, she went through 12 weeks of chemo at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Since then, she has followed up with appointments every six months.
Lacey was surrounded by love and familial support. Her eldest daughter is a hairdresser and initially shaved her head, and her husband worked from home when COVID-19 hit, so he was always available to help her and support her through surgery and treatment.
Losing her hair and eyebrows was hard, she said, because she “looked sick.” Undergoing chemotherapy during the winter months, she never wore a wig. But many people gifted her with hats. “That was fun.”
During treatment, Lacey was forced into menopause. She said those side effects were among the hardest parts of her journey.
“It was a bad chapter in my life, but cancer doesn’t scare me,” she said. “I’m three years out, and I’m not afraid of it coming back.” And, now cancer-free, she said she sometimes “feels survivor’s guilt.”
Walking the Walk
Lacey said she loves doing the TBBCF Walk for a Cure. She’s done the Walk many times and was on Becky’s Besties Team. Friends with Debbie Yother, an active TBBCF volunteer and Board Member, she’s close to the Foundation. And, in a conversation with TBBCF, Lacey shared that she’s been blessed with many loving and supportive arms wrapped around her.
She has a “cancer drawer.” It’s filled with bracelets, cards and notes, and her breast cancer diagnosis explanations. Lacey said it’s almost time to go throw that drawer out.
It just may soon be time to “let it go.”
Editor’s note: Lacey’s positive attitude and her willingness to share her experiences including a beautiful photo journal inspired us to share some of those photos from her journey with our readers. We feel it’s an important part of her story.