COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Jeanne West has survived breast cancer for more than five decades. She would be an amazing outcome for modern day medicine, but she did it without chemo therapy and radiation and was diagnosed prior to mammograms being a popular tool to detect it. This year she celebrates 51 years since her diagnosis.
Fifty-one years ago the young mother of a three month old baby girl was diagnosed with breast cancer. People didn’t talk about such things at the time.
“It was a big deal. Secretive. People just didn’t talk about it at that time,” said West. “My biggest concern was who would take care of my baby. I was 35 years old which is old to have a baby at that time.”
The same doctor who delivered her daughter, performed her mastectomy. “They didn’t have specialists to do things. They just did it all.” Breast Cancer was in her family and without modern day medicine the chance for survival wasn’t great. “I prayed to God that he would let me live so that I could take care of her. And I’m still taking care of her.”
West didn’t get through it alone. Her husband stuck by her at a time when other men at the time would have left. “We hadn’t been married more than four or five years. I know there was a lot of women at that time.. their husbands.. they separated because of that… He loved me.. He said you’re a whole person as far as I’m concerned because you’ve had this happen to you. It doesn’t make a difference.”
Now in her 80’s this will be West’s fourth year at Komen Race for the Cure. She’s hoping everyone who hears or reads her story will take it seriously, do self-examinations, and get mammograms. “No one knows what its like to go thru it. People are scared. I’m still scared at times and I’m scared for other people.” Even when she was scared she never stopped having hope. “someday they are going to find a cure for it and I hope I’m there to see it.”