A frontline warrior

Published 9:11 pm Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iness Taylor wears her red badge of courage and is a frontline warrior in the fight against cancer.

After watching her two older brothers battle and eventually die from cancer, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 — when treatment was still considered archaic — she knew it was do or die.

“My family was loaded with cancer,” Taylor said. “It made me even more determined to beat it.”

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Although she had the choice to remove part of her breast, to ensure the cancer was beaten back meant the entire removal of one of her breasts.

“Everyone said I was crazy, but I wasn’t taking any chances of the cancer coming back,” Taylor said. “I was 63 years old. My days of being frisky were over. I don’t need but one bust, and I don’t even need that.”

She and her husband had discussed what to do, but she took her full 10 days to tell her doctor her decision.

“I did take all the time I had,” Taylor said. “But taking a chance with my life was too risky. And with what I’d seen it do… Cancer was almost a death sentence back then. I wasn’t taking a chance.”

To this day, Taylor insists it’s the wisest decision she ever made.

She didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, radiation or medications.

“I didn’t want to go through what I’d seen others go through,” she said. “But I survived. And it strengthened my resolve to fight this killer.”

Though she was diagnosed in 1995, Taylor’s fight against cancer began years earlier with the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay.

“We used to go to Carter’s and Thornton-Jaffee and other local furniture stores and rock all night,” Taylor said. “I go way back with the Relay.”

Today, after seeing the effects of cancer in her brothers, friends and her husband — who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and later died of a heart attack — she is a team captain for Tabernacle Christian Church’s Relay for Life team.

“Lord, it takes a lot of work, but I enjoy it,” Taylor said.

Last year alone, Taylor turned in $2,200 for cancer research and was awarded the honor for largest individual donor for Suffolk’s Rockin’ Relay for Life.

After fighting for a cancer cure for longer than she can remember, Taylor said the progress she has seen is encouraging.

“It used to be that there wasn’t too much they could do,” Taylor said. “When I was a little girl, nobody talked about cancer. People would get sick and you wouldn’t hear the word ‘cancer’ until after they passed away, but they can prolong life now. My husband got the shot for prostate cancer and it prolonged his life for seven years.”

Her passion is clear, and Taylor said she will continue doing everything she can to raise money to support research.

“I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing,” Taylor said. “If they don’t find a cure while I’m still living, I will roll over in my grave with happiness when they do.”

To find out how you can join the fight against cancer, call Relay for Life at 493-7940.