Breast Cancer Survivor Brings Mammograms Closer To Home
Posted: September 28, 2013
By KASSONDRA CLOOS
Carolyn Foyle, owner of Vivid Hair Designs and Spa, styles Pauline Borror’s hair Thursday at her Woodstock salon. Foyle, 68, credits a mammogram for helping her to detect and beat breast cancer. (Photo by Kassondra Cloos)
WOODSTOCK — For Carolyn Foyle, frequent mammograms paid off — big time. Now, she’s working to make sure other women around the Valley are being proactive about their health, too.
Foyle, 68, is a breast cancer survivor. She’s been getting yearly mammograms since about the age of 40, and she credits that with finding a lump in her left breast before it grew much larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen.
The lump was found after she got a mammogram in the Rockingham Memorial Hospital Mammography Van while it was in Mount Jackson in July 2009. The van travels around the Valley to bring mobile services to neighborhoods far away from its home base in Harrisonburg.
Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Foyle has had the van come to her Woodstock hair salon, Vivid Hair Designs and Spa, once a year.
This year, it will roll into town on Nov. 2.
Foyle’s recovery wasn’t an easy one; radiation therapy drained her and left her exhausted. Her late husband, Berny, took care of her, though, and she said he kept her in good spirits. He served as the receptionist at the hair salon and made sure she took long lunches and didn’t have more appointments than she could handle.
“He just stuck with me, you know,” Foyle said. “He stuck right there with me. Matter of fact, he would get on me if he saw me doing more than I should’ve been doing. He was good about that. But yeah, he took good care of me. He was my fortress at the time.”
Next summer, it will have been five years since Foyle had surgery to remove the lump and started taking tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug. She’s been working with the women’s health center at RMH in Harrisonburg and said she’s grateful to be under the care of Heidi Rafferty, who has been her doctor since the cancer was first found.
“RMH made one of the best moves they could make when they hired her,” Foyle said. “She has changed the whole realm of women’s breast care around our Valley. She has made so many changes and has done so much for so many people. I can’t say enough about her, she’s a good gal. They found it like, in July, I’m thinking it was about the latter part of July, and by the 19th of August I was in surgery. She didn’t let any grass grow under her feet.”
Foyle’s work to get women to get mammograms doesn’t stop at bringing the van around once a year. She tells her customers to make sure their friends and relatives are getting exams, too, and always has pink ribbons and pamphlets available for women who climb aboard the van.
“Especially if they come into my chair and I know they haven’t had a mammogram, I tell them, ‘You need to get it done,’ if I know they’re over 40,” she said.
Many women are scared of mammograms, but Foyle said they’ve become much more comfortable in recent years, especially as things have started going digital. She reminds women that it’s better to catch it now, early, when survival rates are much, much higher.
Because she caught it early, only the small lump and three lymph nodes needed to be removed during surgery, and the cancer did not spread.
Catching it as soon as possible is the most important thing, Foyle said, and then doing everything it takes to get rid of it.
“I don’t mind losing a breast, that doesn’t worry me one way or another — or both, that doesn’t worry me,” she said. “It’s just a thing. That’s not you. What’s you is in your heart.”
To Make An Appointment
The RMH Mammography Van will be across the street from Vivid Hair Designs and Spa, 110 A E. High St., Woodstock, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2.
Call the RMH Women’s Center at 433-4641 to make an appointment there or for any of the other locations it travels to.
October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about area events and services, visit the RMH Breast Care Blog at www.breastcareblog.rmhwomenscenter.com.