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Clock out Cancer: Brenda Huffman

Posted: October 11, 2017 - 2:09am
Brenda Huffman with her cat, Callie. Huffman was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago in December.
Brenda Huffman with her cat, Callie. Huffman was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago in December.

Brenda Huffman loves animals.

She's rescued many animals in her lifetime. She's pulled emaciated dogs from the side of the road and nursed them back to health and taken in animals that needed surgery and her tender loving care. She fosters homeless pets in addition to the four cats and three dogs who live with her. Plus, she volunteers several times a week at Augusta Animal Services and with other organizations such as Shelter Animals Matter (SAM).

But during her fight with breast cancer, it was those same animals who, in a sense, rescued her.

"They were what kept me going," said Huffman, who was diagnosed with the disease almost four years ago in December.

She'd gone in for her routine mammogram when doctors spotted something.

"When the lady said ‘come follow me to the next room,' I knew," she said.

The diagnosis came as a complete shock, she said. She hadn't felt any lumps and wasn't expecting anything to come back abnormal.

"I was diagnosed at MCG, and they move really fast," she said.

Too fast for her at first. While doctors were ready to remove the lump and start treatments, Huffman said she needed time to process the diagnosis and weigh her options. She spent a couple of weeks in the mountains to think and reflect.

Since the tumor was spotted early, doctors were able to do a lumpectomy followed by radiation. She had her surgery in January 2014, and the radiation treatments began the following month.

Huffman said she decided against chemotherapy.

She still takes medication including one prescription that she will take for five years. She feels the effects of the drugs such as constant pain in her joints.

"I admire the women who can go through this and have a happy face every day. I didn't," she said.

During her radiation treatments, she'd visit Augusta Animal Services and try to continue her work bathing animals before their spay and neuter surgeries, but it was difficult, she said. Radiation left her exhausted.

"Some days I could bathe one; some days I couldn't bathe any," she said.

But seeing the animals and taking care of them lifted her spirits and helped her through the rough days.

Now she continues her work with the animals, trying to find good homes for them, but she also has some words for her human counterparts.

"They caught mine early, and I'm thankful for it," she said. "I tell women to make sure you get your mammogram every year."

 

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