Diane Weldon is normally a very private person. And very independent. What she learned from having breast cancer is how much she needs other people. “Having cancer is too big to handle by yourself, you need others.” And when she shared her situation, others responded.
They offered to mow her lawn. Bring her dinner. Shop for food. One of her work colleagues who had throat cancer gave her tips on using the aloe plant for skin burns. And bought her an acupressure wristband to help stave off nausea. And she can talk for hours about what Summit Quest did for her and her daughter, Zeena. “They give such strength, hope and service to children and families affected by cancer,” she says, “they are like family to us now.”
Her cancer journey started in 2014, when a black dot was noticed on her mammogram. It was the day before her 42nd birthday. Her physician was assuring, thought it was nothing to worry about, probably just fibroids. But, just to be safe, asked her to come back in a few months. It proved to be something to worry about: in 2015 she was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer, which tends to grow faster.
Treatment began immediately. She had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Her hair was falling out in clumps and it nearly broke her. Finally, her sister just cut it all off, leaving her bald. But, it was very freeing. “I thank her all the time for doing me this great favor. It was killing me to go through the distress over and over again. This way, it was over and done with and I moved on, using creative ways to wear scarves and hats,” she says.
Since her last treatment, no cancer has come back, and she’s back to an annual mammogram to check out her status. But, she’s still very disheartened.
“It’s kind of hard to deal with,” she admits. “After treatment, there is no follow through. When I walked out, I was overwhelmed; I cry at every follow-up visit. How do I know this is it? All the doctors can say is “I think you are going to be okay.” It’s a real struggle,” she adds.
She’s also concerned for her daughter, Zeena, now 12-years-old. “She’s a quiet little girl, and I know this has to be scary for her,” she says. To make matters worse, her Zeena’s father was undergoing heart surgery around the same time. Then he moved away. Diane had to work throughout her treatment and was totally exhausted at the end of the day.
Summit Quest was a huge support. William James’ programs for kids always kept Zeena busy, with fun outings and activities. “We still go,” says Diane.
Her employer, OTR Wheel Engineering, was “amazing.” She had chosen not to carry the cancer policy on her insurance coverage, so they held a huge fundraiser to help cover her medical expenses. They allowed her to take the time off she needed during treatment. “But I really wanted to continue working,” she adds, “it gave me some type of normalcy, a chance to be among friends, and kept my mind on other things. I think it saved me emotionally,” she says.
Cancer changed Diane’s outlook on life. She feels like she’s a better person. She has turned to God for support and comfort. “In every hardship, there is something you learn and something positive that comes through it,” she says. Diane has a lot of family, but none of them are local. So, now she has the Summit Quest family, and is so grateful for all of life’s blessings.
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