PITTSBURG — Leslie Lackamp said she truly believes having someone to talk to makes life with breast cancer easier.
Lackamp, executive director for Mosaic in southeast Kansas, found herself surrounded by support at home, at work, at the hospital and through organizations both online and off, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2015.
Lackamp said the people who walked alongside her — whether wearing breast cancer t-shirts, sharing motivational posts on Facebook or sharing their own experience with breast cancer — made her feel like she was not alone, kept her spirits up and encouraged her to stay positive.
“I was truly surrounded by a lot of great coworkers, and my friends made it so much easier … my work family gave me so much support, they made paths for me to keep moving forward,” she said.
She said her husband and son showed the same support and took good care of her.
“As crazy as it is, cancer made me wake up and realize a lot of things to be thankful for — things we all take for granted,” Lackamp said.
Lackamp said having someone to talk to is important, and work schedules made it difficult for her to go to support groups — which were made available through the hospital — but she did find a group online, which connected cancer patients and survivors through Facebook. They call themselves Pink Sisters.
“It is a safe place you can ask any questions … we lift each other up — we know that we’re not alone,” she said.
Lackamp said there are a lot of resources available for women with breast cancer, which assist with bills, questions and other support.
“No one should ever feel ashamed to contact them and get support — never feel ashamed or guilty,” she said.
Lackamp said she usually had a family member or friend with her during infusions at the hospital and during some of her treatments she noticed some patients dealing with cancer alone.
“I don’t know how people can get through this alone,” she said. “You go through too much to not talk to someone.”
For her surgery, care and treatment, Lackamp went to both Via Christi Hospital and University of Kansas Hospital. Doctors, nurses and other staff made themselves available if she or her family had any questions — they could call day or night, she said.
“They were really good to me,” she said. “They would answer any questions I had, or my son and husband had.
“My mom made the comment, they almost treat you like you’re a queen.”
Lackamp said the hospitals want their patients to have a good experience and to keep them healthy through treatments.
“I feel very fortunate that I was able to connect with them,” she said. “They connected with me and my entire family — it made me feel much better.”
About Lackamp’s cancer
Lackamp felt something while she was traveling for work. She called her doctor and the following Monday she had an appointment which was followed by a mammogram, ultrasound, cat scan and biopsy — most of which were all in one day.
“I’m so grateful it was all in one day, and I did not have to wait and wonder … it is shocking, but I was grateful to get it done,” she said.
She was diagnosed with an endocrine receptor-positive cancer which means she needs medication to block the effects of estrogen to prevent any more growths.
“Right now I need medication every day. The whole goal is to prevent making estrogen,” Lackamp said.
Lackamp went through six months of chemotherapy to reduce the size of her tumor — which was the size of a lemon — at Via Christi, and a lumpectomy and reconstructive surgery at the University of Kansas Hospital.
After chemotherapy and 35 treatments of radiation, she has no evidence of the disease today.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.