Tonya Parker, a breast cancer survivor for five years, is the co-chairwoman of the Hartselle Area Relay for Life.
Tonya Parker, a breast cancer survivor for five years, is the co-chairwoman of the Hartselle Area Relay for Life.

Archived Story

Keeping her faith

Published 10:16am Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Young mother of two is a breast cancer survivor

Cancer struck fear in the life of Tonya Parker at age 35. Today, at 40, she is a cancer survivor and a passionate supporter of Hartselle Relay for Life.

“I found out I had cancer in a telephone call from my doctor,” Parker recalled. “My initial reaction was fear, not knowing what lay ahead. After that came denial, then the resolve that I was going to fight it with every ounce of my strength.”

Parker won the fight after enduring skirmishes with surgery and chemotherapy and radiation treatments and has been cancer-free for over five years.

Her lifestyle is back to normal, pursuing a career as a registered nurse and taking care of her husband, Derek, and their two children, Kenzie, 13, and Tay, 8.

She is also serving in her third year as co-chairperson of Hartselle Relay for Life.

“Parker’s bout with cancer began in 2008 when she discovered a suspicious lump in one of her breasts. A visit to her gynecologist and a mammogram led her a general surgeon, a biopsy and the cancer diagnosis.

“I was fortunate that the cancer they found was in stage II and was confined to one breast,” Parker said, “and I was a good candidate for a lumpectomy surgical procedure.

“After successful surgery, I received four chemotherapy treatments and 26 radiation treatments.

A follow-up examination revealed that the cancer was in remission. She now sees her doctor every four months for a mammogram as a precautionary measure.

While taking treatments Parker’s children were eight and four and very active. Keeping pace with their activities was challenging.

“I had to push myself to keep going when the treatments made me feel bad and worn out,” she stated. My daughter played youth basketball and it was all I could do at times to sit through her games.”

“What pulled me through was my Christian faith and the tremendous support I received from my family, friends, doctors and co-workers,” Parker pointed out. “I’m a stronger person now, and I look back on it as being just a bump in the road.”

Parker said her experience with cancer taught her how important it is to live every day of life to its fullest.

“I believer God has a plan for all of us and what he allows us to go through can serve a useful purpose,” se said.” It helped me grow stronger in my faith and made me have a stronger desire to help others.”

Parker recommended that both women and men practice self-examination of their breasts and have regular medical checkups, including mammograms.

“Never ignore a suspicious knot or lump,” Parker recommended. See your doctor. Early detection of cancer is very important.”

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