Local mom beats the odds to become a breast cancer survivor

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This weekend, thousands of breast cancer survivors will pack downtown Columbus for the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, and in the crowd you will find Pauline Russ.

“I didn’t have the typical symptoms. I didn’t feel a lump,” said Russ who remembers pain and a tingling sensation in her right breast. “It was one of those things where you just know your body best and I knew that there was something not right.”

Her instincts were right.  Russ was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma- triple positive…. it just came out of nowhere, because there was no family history, I was young, and I was generally healthy,” said Russ.

Russ was just 34-years old and says she never saw this coming. And to complicate the diagnosis, she was pregnant after struggling to conceive.

“Starting my second trimester when I was diagnosed, which actually was the perfect timing, because that’s the one time during the pregnancy that you can have the chemotherapy,” said Russ.

Russ went through chemotherapy while she was pregnant during her second trimester and then continued her treatment after delivering a healthy baby boy whom she credits with saving her life.

“Because I was pregnant, I was going to the doctor more often, so every time my obstetrician would ask how things were, I would say everything is good except for this right side,” said Russ.

Russ is proud to be a breast cancer survivor, and has even dedicated her career to helping others in the fight against cancer, now working as the program director for OhioHealth Cancer Services. But Russ is most proud to call herself a mother.  Her son just turned 7-years old and joins her at the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure.

“Being pregnant is what helped save my life.  I see it as he is who helped save my life….To still be here with my little 7 year old guy who is getting ready to wrap up first grade, I mean it is such a blessing,” said Russ.

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