BLACKFOOT – In one whirlwind week everything changed for Robyn Case and her family.
“I was 31 years old and I was four months pregnant with my fourth baby when I found a lump,” said Case. “I thought it was something that had to do with the pregnancy.”
Her husband, Doug, kept telling her to ask her doctor which she finally did on a Monday in August 2008.
Case says on Monday her doctor sent her over to a surgeon who did a biopsy. Tuesday they did an ultrasound, Wednesday she had an MRI, Thursday they received the results and Friday at 7 a.m. she went in for surgery.
“The four days before we knew what it really was were way worse than after the surgery,” said Case who was diagnosed with Stage 3 of the most common form of breast cancer. She had a radical mastectomy on the left side and chose to have a simple mastectomy on the right.
“For me it was an easy decision,” said Case. “I’m an X-ray tech and knew when I was learning how to read mammograms that if it ever happened to me I’d just get rid of it.”
Because Case was pregnant, she was treated with two rounds of “old chemo drugs” prior to giving birth to her son, Peyton.
“The first time you go for chemo the PA tells you a million things that could happen and it scares you to death,” said Case. “I was so lucky. I didn’t get really sick. I just had no energy and I figured if that was the worse then I could handle it.”
Case continued to have treatments after the birth of her son and found support from family and friends to be incredibly important. She also received encouragement from Kim Buck, a local breast cancer survivor.
“Kim Buck called me and talked me through everything,” she said. “It helped so much to hear from someone else and Kim is the most positive person I’ve ever met in my life. She would tell me ‘you’ve got this, you can do it’ and I believed her.”
But her strongest support came from her husband.
“My husband was my rock and he was so good with the kids,” said Case. “He was the one that shaved my head. I was crying, then he had me laughing. He would tell me that my bald head was cute and he would miss it when my hair grew back -- I knew he was lying. But, he was amazing.”
It was important for Case to keep life normal for her children. Her oldest, Ethan was 7-years-old and started second grade one week after her surgery. She kept a promise and walked him to the first day of school. Sydney was 5, and Kelsey 2, Peyton was born a few weeks early with no complications.
“It was really hard to explain to them what was happening because I still looked healthy and I tried really hard not to act different,” she said. “I believe they helped me to heal faster because they wanted me to go and do things with them and I wanted to go.”
Her kids also kept things very real and humbling, asking her to “put a hat on”.
This December will be one year since Case completed treatments. She has recently graduated from follow-up exams every three months to semiannual check-ups.
“Really when you have breast cancer or any kind of cancer it makes you more aware of everyone around you and what they go through,” said Case. “It’s always a thought in your mind when you are going through it and when it’s in the past you want it to stay in the past. You really want to spend more time with your family every day and you appreciate everything.”