Cancer Survivor: Lora Buckert
Cancer Diagnosis: Stage 2 Breast Cancer (HER2+ ER + PR -)
Diagnosed: July 2015
- Chemotherapy once a week for 12 weeks
- Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks for a year
“When cancer strikes a person, it also strikes the family. I don’t know that I had a full understanding of what that meant before my diagnosis.”
After her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 60, retired first-grade teacher Lora Buckert always made time for regular screenings and performed self-examinations once she turned 40. However, in 2015, a routine mammogram found a lump, and she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
“My thought was I really did not have time for this right now, then I was struck with the feeling of not knowing what to do next,” Buckert says. “After the news of my diagnosis sunk in, that this really was happening to me, I just wanted to get that cancer out of me fast.”
Getting through treatment
Buckert’s treatment plan included chemo once per week for 12 weeks, radiation five days per week for six weeks, and Herceptin infusions every three weeks for a year. She says she was so thankful to have found Dr. Suppes, her surgeon, who answered countless questions, set up oncology appointments, and helped get Buckert’s journey started.
“The staff and personnel at Columbia Surgical Associates are the best,” Buckert says. “They are all so kind and caring. They will do everything possible to help you along this journey.”
In addition to her husband, who attended every chemo session until he had to go to work, and her friends, who offered to join, maintaining a positive attitude helped Buckert from feeling overwhelmed.
“There were so many treatments, doctor visits, labs, radiation, and other medical tests,” Buckert says. “When I started to get discouraged, I just looked at how many things have been accomplished, and I can keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.”
Additionally, she kept reminding herself to remember that chemo was making her stronger to live longer — that it was her friend, too.
Because she continued teaching throughout her treatment, Buckert was able to a sense of normalcy, and she witnessed how special her school was. She says her school friends were always there to support her and share a laugh, and her present and past students found wonderful ways to let ger know they were cheering for her recovery. One student even had her grandma bring her to Buckert’s house so she could drop off a card and picture.
Friends, faith, and family
Despite her frightening diagnosis, Buckert says the experience has reminded her to cherish her family and friends and to remember how simple things — encouraging, funny and cheerful cards, for example — can brighten a day. She also learned firsthand how to help another person going through similar treatments, and she realized how supportive her small-town community in Centralia, Missouri, could be.
“Everyone was so supportive and that allowed me to relax and focus on getting better,” Buckert says. “There were so many people praying for me and my family throughout this time.”
Buckert says her faith also kept her grounded throughout her journey. She says she repeated Bible verses over and over, and she held onto her belief that God wouldn’t take her anywhere His grace wouldn’t protect her.
There’s no right or wrong way to feel
For patients who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Buckert says her advice is to remember that everyone’s journey through treatment is different and that there’s no right or wrong way to feel. She suggests that they relax as much as possible, stay focused on parts of the process that are in their control, and research doctors and find one that feels like the best fit.
“One cannot put a value on having knowledgeable and caring professionals leading the way for you,” Buckert says.