orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

October 16, 2013

Living after cancer

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

— The shock of being told one has cancer and fighting the battle to survive is difficult but two women, Margaret Louviere, 92, and Tanya Ardoin, 39, prove that life does go on after the struggle has been won.

Margaret faced the encounter of cancer twice, once at 73 when she was diagnosed with thyroid and uterine cancer and again at 84 when she faced breast cancer head on.

Margaret said she was fortunate that she did not have to have chemo with the breast cancer. She did have a mastectomy which successfully removed all the cancer during the surgery.

“Everything has changed since the first time,” Margaret said. “The first time I had to have six months of chemo.”

Margaret said she survived going bald because she had two good wigs.

Margaret also said that if she had it [mastectomy] to do over again, she would have had a double mastectomy.

“It does not take anything away from being physically attractive.” Margaret said.

Margaret said it was through the support from her sister and the Lord for helping her through cancer.

“Annual physicals and mammograms catch it all,” Margaret said. “I believe in annual check-ups and a mammogram every year.”

Margaret spends much of her time crocheting or knitting hats and blankets to donate to children and recently donated several hats for children with cancer.

Tanya, who is marking a 10 year anniversary this year from her battle with breast cancer, said it was just two weeks before her 30 birthday when she was given the news she had breast cancer.

“My back was hurting so bad I told my husband I could hardly breath,” Tanya said. “I did a self examination and found the lump.”

A lumpectomy diagnosed the lump as a rare and aggressive tumor.

“I projectile vomited on the surgeon when I was told,” Tanya said. “I thought I was dying right there.”

Tanya was convinced that she was not going to survive leading to her writing a note to both her son age 7 and her daughter age 3 at the time. She recently read it for the first time in ten years, bringing tears to her eyes.

As part of Tanya coming to terms with the cancer, she painted a silhouette of a woman showing the different kinds of cancer where and how they would appear during testing. The artwork is titled ‘Cancer Can Be Beautiful.’

“I wanted to show there is a brighter side to being sick,” Tanya said. “I learned so much and made more friends while fighting the disease.”

She also said that her sister pointed out that the less her she had the bigger her ear rings got.

“The Look Good Feel Better Program taught me how to be more flamboyant with my wigs, hair and ear rings,” Tanya said. “It helped me become more outgoing, before I never wore jewelry.”

Tanya said that stopping the treatment was just as scary for her as starting.

“I was living with it for so long,” Tanya said. “It was all I knew.”

Tanya had to have a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery as well as going through chemo treatments.

“God and support groups helped get me through the cancer,” Tanya said.

Tanya said she is more carefree today than she was prior to her diagnosis.

“Before I would call the bank and have my account to the penny, and there were no footprints in the carpet,” Tanya said. “Now, everyday we spend time watching the clouds and picking flowers.”