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Breast Cancer Survivor Stories

Every day at Rex, we are inspired by breast cancer survivors like Laura, Lenora, Kelly and Carol who remind us why we put excellence and compassion in patient care first.


Laura's Story

One week after my 42nd birthday I found a lump in my right breast. By August 5th I was diagnosed with breast cancer and by the following Friday, I learned it was stage IIIA. I did a lot of praying to have God get me through this journey and allow him to guide my doctors, nurses and staff in giving me the highest quality of care.

I know being a child of God that he would get me through this journey of life. I know he wrote this for me in my book of life. It was up to me how I was going to handle it. I had just watched my father pass away from esophageal cancer 2 years prior. I have to admit, I was a little scared going into all this without family members close by. I depended on my best friend Kim to walk with me throughout this entire process.

I thank God each and every day for my awesome care at Rex Healthcare. Everyone from Drs. Eddleman, Wehbie and Anderson, nurses, radiation and lab techs and front desk staff…I owe everything to you. You all assisted in saving my life and making the process much easier than expected. You all made this past year of my doable. I have endured a lumpectomy, 6 chemo treatments, 6 excruciating joint pain Neuleasta injections, 35 radiation treatments and 30 Herceptin treatments. My surgery was August 30, 2011 with my last Herceptin treatment was October 5, 2012. What a full year of doctor visits and treatment. THANK YOU!!!!

--Laura Illingworth

Learn more about Rex Cancer Center Physicians


Lenora's Story

Going along in my busy and all-consuming world, breast cancer never entered my mind. I had always looked after everyone else – children, grandchildren, parents and my husband who has had a massive stroke. At this point in my life, I didn’t have time to need medical attention. Or so I thought. At the insistence of my current medical doctor, I went for my mammogram at the Rex Mobile Unit. The result was that I needed a biopsy which led to a lumpectomy and subsequently, radiation. Needless to say, all of this was not in my wildest dreams and definitely not in my schedule, but being a realist (or, I kind of like to think of myself as one) I faced this as a necessary part of my life course and I had no control, other than to accept it, try to keep a positive spirit, and to glean whatever I am required to from this experience and put it to use. Thankfully, my doctor referred me to Rex Mobile Mammography and I have been able to receive the treatment and care I need through their referral program. Early detection and Rex, both are a godsend.

--Lenora Woods

Read a Q&A with Lenora on North Raleigh News' website: Cancer survivor learns to put health first

Learn more about Rex Mobile Mammography 
Learn more about Rex Cancer Center


Kelly's Story

At only 29 years old, Kelly Flaviani has learned a lot of valuable life lessons that she otherwise may not have discovered had she not been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Listen to her story as she reflects back on the warm, family-friendly care she received at the Rex Cancer Center, as well as the progressive approach that she and her doctors took through the latest technology and clinical trials at Rex. 

Learn more about Rex Cancer Center 
Learn more about Clinical Trials at Rex


Carol's Story

After having received a breast cancer diagnosis in January of 2006, and enduring a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation, I thought I was finished with the Rex Cancer Center! So upon my yearly mammogram in Nov 2010, I was very surprised to learn that I had cancer again- this time in my other breast! Not exactly the news we wanted to hear two days before Thanksgiving!

Like the first time, I had a choice. I could put my head in the sand and withdraw from life or I could hold my head high, get the necessary procedures done, and GO ON LIVING! I opted for the second choice!

The decision to have a bi-lateral mastectomy was not an easy one. But after talking to my beloved doctor, Dr. Crane at the Rex Cancer Center, and a few women who had already gone down this path, my husband and I came to the conclusion that it was the best choice. Having made up my mind, I was ready to get on with it... after the Christmas holidays!

Dr Kirk Faust, my surgeon, and Dr Rhett High, my plastic surgeon, were both incredible! Also, the whole team of healthcare professionals at Rex was amazing! From the lab techs to the anesthesiologists to the nurses through the night, each one was courteous and professional and made me feel special!

My pathology report a week after surgery was great; the cancer was gone!! Those words were exactly what we wanted to hear! The reconstruction process has gone well and my life is "back to normal!" I will forever be grateful to Rex and the wonderful team of medical professionals there!

--Carol Allen

Learn more about Rex Surgery Services 
Learn more about Rex Cancer Center