A third cancer diagnosis

Published 7:40 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2015

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has arrived, and Pughsville resident LaTasha Dickens is telling her story of battling the disease.

LaTasha Dickens

LaTasha Dickens

Dickens is 37 and is fighting breast cancer for the third time. She was first diagnosed at age 29.

After her first diagnosis, doctors did a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. They later had to remove more tissue, and Dickens had reconstructive surgery.

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Before that surgery, however, doctors found that she had cancer again. She decided to have a double mastectomy, and her cancer was in remission. The reconstructive surgery was able to go forward.

But this year, her health suffered after she gave birth to her fourth child about six months ago. The birth left her unable to walk, and she wound up with deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. She also had to have her gallbladder removed.

As if that weren’t enough, she noticed changes in her breast and visited the doctor, who did a biopsy. The procedure found that Dickens now has cancer for the third time.

She has been visiting the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Chicago and was supposed to start chemotherapy there, but doctors found bleeding from her gallbladder surgery — a situation that has to be resolved before she can undergo chemo.

“I have good days; I have bad days,” said Dickens, whose mother also had breast cancer.

Since her diagnosis, she tries to do something every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, she plans a Paint Me Pink night for her friends at her home. A silent auction will be part of the event, she said, and an art teacher from a local school will lead the painting.

Dickens said her faith and her family — including her husband and three older children, ages 9, 10 and 11 — have helped her through her ordeal.

“It’s only a test for me to be able to give a testimony,” she said. “If I didn’t keep my faith and say my prayers, I really wouldn’t be able to make it.”

Her advice to others with a friend or loved one fighting cancer is just to be there for them, whether it’s to bring a meal, come help with housework or just sit and talk.

“I’ve had so much outpouring (of support from) people that I don’t know,” Dickens said.

Though Dickens’ husband is continuing to work, she is unable to do so, and the expenses for travel to Chicago and a home health aide are mounting. For those who want to help her, an account is set up at Navy Federal Credit Union with access code 8115006.