News 4 is going Pink 4 Hope in the fight against breast cancer.
Experts say early detection to prevent the spread is key.
But, as an Elma woman learned, sometimes you can do everything in your power and still receive that dreaded diagnosis.
“I feel very blessed… to still be alive,” said Mary Lynn Wekenmann.
Mary Lynn has been living with breast cancer for 5 1/2 years.
It seems like a lifetime for her… but she remembers when it all began.
“In the winter of 2015, I had terrible bone pain. My femur, my back, my lower back and I just didn’t feel good,” said Mary Lynn.
Doctors originally thought she had arthritis, so she took some medicine, but it didn’t work.
She was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It was just so overwhelming that when the doctor started talking I was going like this,” Mary Lynn explained as she hit her ears.
“I just couldn’t grasp it, I couldn’t listen to it. In the beginning, he never said one good thing. It was like I was going to be dead within the year,” she said.
She was treated for the cancer in her lung for an entire year before she met with a new doctor.
“She said gee, ‘when you had the lung biopsy, did they do a bone biopsy because there’s something in your breast?’ I said really? No… they just did the lung biopsy,” said Mary Lynn.
That doctor had a different diagnosis; stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
It spread form her breast to her lung and bone six months after a mammogram appointment where no cancer was found.
Mary Lynn never had any health issues and she has no family history of breast cancer.
“I had a mammogram in December 2014. I worked in a doctor’s office for many years so I always did those things. So I was shocked I was like how can that happen? It was normal,” she said.
Today, Mary Lynn is on a combination of drugs that essentially puts her cancer to sleep.
As a result, she’s fatigued, has joint pain and hair loss.
But this year, during the pandemic, has been especially difficult.
In May, she lost her husband of 19 years to heart disease and kidney failure.
“This is hard… I couldn’t go with him, I couldn’t help him, I couldn’t be his advocate, I couldn’t do anything and he died the 5th in the evening, two days later on his daughter’s birthday,” said Mary Lynn.
Despite the loss, her support system is still strong.
Her big family keeps her going.
“My kids and my grand kids I have a lot of friends, I just don’t want to give up. And I won’t give up until I know there’s no quality of life for me and I know someday that will happen,” she said.
For now, she takes things day by day and encourages other women to put their health first.
“You just think that you have forever and I don’t have forever. Enjoy and appreciate those you love and everyday because tomorrow isn’t promised to anybody,” said Mary Lynn.
A strong message, from a woman paving the way for other fighters in the future.