A story of survival

Carson Valley is in a flurry with the upcoming Relay For Life event. But the real message of the event - honoring and remembering cancer survivors and patients - is a message that often hits close to home.

Jane Gray, a resident of Minden, is a breast cancer survivor.

Gray, 41, was diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years ago, after discovering a lump in her breast while showering. She went to her doctor, who then found another lump, but told her he was 99 percent sure that the lumps were not cancerous. Gray then went on to get a mammogram, but doctors couldn't find anything, despite the large size of the lumps. She went to a radiologist, who found a solid mass and was very concerned.

Gray wanted to have surgery right away, and a meeting with a tumor board was held. Her case was accepted and she underwent surgery.

Gray's tumor was found to be six centimeters, which is very large compared to the average tumor sizes ranging from two millimeters to two or three centimeters. A biopsy was done, but Gray had to wait for the results to see if it was cancer or not.

"I was getting so nervous for the results," Gray recalled. "The biopsy was on Tuesday, and I had to wait until Thursday or Friday for the results."

Gray called on Thursday and Friday, and was told that the results were in but there was no doctor available to read them to her, and she might have to wait until Monday.

"That's a horrible time to make someone wait to hear about something like that," she said.

Gray called another doctor on Friday, who was able to read the results. He broke the news to her.

"I was at home sitting next to my then 14-year-old son," said Gray. "And I just tried to hold it together when the doctor told me I had cancer."

She went up to where her husband was working in Carson City to tell him the news.

"He didn't speak for three days," Gray said. "He was terrified."

Gray had to undergo six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation. But even with the opportunity for treatment, Gray was still scared.

"I was terrified that I was going to die," she said. "I tried to keep a strong front for my kids and my husband.

When you're healthy, your mind can think to the future, 'Oh, we'll retire and travel and all that.' You can imagine sitting on a swing with gray hair. But once something like that happens, the future's not there anymore. I just wanted to get through the next six months, and see certain things with my kids.

I made a deal with God, 'Let me be around to see that.'"

However, the treatment was successful, and a few years later, Gray is in remission and just wants keeping the cancer at bay. Gray's two children, a son and a daughter, are now 16 and 13 years old.

"I don't think about it on an everyday basis," she said.

Gray has a history of breast cancer in her family.

"My mother got it when she was 52, and my grandmother died from it in '54," Gray said. "My mom is a 15-year survivor, and seeing her survive gave me a lot of hope.

"The future is a little further along now," she said.

Gray likes to share her story in hopes that it will inspire other cancer patients to keep going.

"It takes dignity and strength," she said of dealing with cancer. "I feel like sharing gives hope to people that they will be OK, maybe not physically, but emotionally. They will be all right."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment