FALL RIVER – Not many people can say they had a dream that saved their life. But to Fall River residents Sandra BroomeHaving undergone dozens of operations for various types of cancer, anything seems possible.
Broome was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and was planning to have one double mastectomy Next year. But that summer she had a dream in which her late father, who himself died of cancer, urged her to get an operation as soon as possible. She woke up, pinched herself, and convinced her doctors to let her do the mastectomy three weeks later.
“They called me 14 days later and told me to sit down,” she said. The surgery revealed that she had three different types of cancer in her breasts, including one that could possibly have spread to other parts of her body.
In the years that followed, Broome, 45, had 53 surgeries, and the number is rising, and more are planned for this fall. Since her mastectomy, she has faced one hurdle after another. Tumors have appeared in other parts of her body, she had to undergo treatment to correct complications from radiation therapy to her hip, and her breast implants had to be replaced several times due to government recalls.
“I look like a map,” she said about all of her scars, radiation burns and radiation tattoos.
But Broome has maintained an indomitable optimism throughout her countless surgeries and painful recovery. She said she developed a routine to make sure she walks into her treatments with a smile on her face and jokes with the anesthetist.
“I’m doing a dance, I’m joking around,” she said.
Now she’s helping to raise money for cancer treatment and research through various cancer walks and other fundraising drives. She currently heads a fundraising team, Sandra Stark, for next month Jimmy Fund Walk in aid of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The walk is virtual this year, so on October 3rd she will be walking around Boston’s Castle Island.
And Broome said she wanted to let other people facing similar challenges know what they think is the best way to endure the grueling treatment process.
“Laughter heals,” she said of what she attributes to her treatment providers at Dana-Farber who they taught her. “So many people are stressed and I get it. But stress doesn’t help the body. “
It’s not about never feeling sad or discouraged, but it’s important to have a positive attitude, she said.
“Strong people cry too,” she says. But: “If I have to have 100 operations, I’m here. Cancer and tumors will not defeat this lady. “
Audrey Cooney can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.