October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. All month long, INTEGRIS Health will share inspiring stories of women in different stages of their battle. Today we recognize Linda Jones of Waukomis.
Dave and Linda Jones are the A group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generatedtype of couple who can, and do, finish one another’s sentences. They have been married for 45 years, and the bond they share is evident. Their faith is the foundation of their marriage, and both their relationship and belief in God have become stronger as they have faced Linda’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as a team.
Just a few short months ago, Linda believed she had stage IV cancer, both in her breast and in her lungs. But, as you will learn, God had other plans for Linda.
“In 2020, when COVID hit, we did what a lot of people did, and we skipped our regular doctor appointments and our preventive care tests and scans,” Linda said.
In early 2022, Dave and Linda established care with INTEGRIS Health family physician, Chris Shearer, D.O., who wanted to make sure they both went through all the recommended tests and scans they missed over the last two years.
“I went in for my mammogram in April, and within two hours I received a call back from INTEGRIS Bass radiology,” Linda said. “I was told they saw something suspicious, and I needed to undergo a second test.” (story continues below)
That was followed up with an ultrasound and then a biopsy of the mass. The test came back positive for cancer.
“It happened quickly, and it was overwhelming,” Linda said. “My sister had breast cancer thirty years ago.” Fortunately, she beat it and has been cancer-free for decades. Linda’s mother, however, died of pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.
Linda’s cancer was found to be triple positive, meaning hormone positive (both estrogen and progesterone) and HER2 positive. HER2 positive cancers are considered more aggressive and are often treated with chemotherapy. Linda was recommended to undergo chemotherapy before surgery.
She also underwent genetic testing, which showed she carries a high-risk of breast cancer due to a mutation on her PALB2 gene, which places her at increased risk for breast cancer.
Linda was referred to INTEGRIS Health general surgeon John Goulart, D.O., to discuss her options. Goulart ordered additional tests to determine if the cancer had spread to other areas of her body. A PET scan showed nodules in her lungs, which took her cancer diagnosis from stage I to stage IV. “That was a really hard time,” Linda reflected. “I was ready to start treating the cancer that I knew was killing me, but the doctors needed more information before we could move forward with treatment.”
“Dr. Goulart referred me to INTEGRIS Health Breast Surgery in Oklahoma City and surgical oncologist Nicole Sharp,” Linda said. “Dr. Sharp meticulously went through every single test that had been done.”
Before starting treatment with Sumbal Nabi, M.D., at the INTEGRIS Health Cancer Institute in Enid, the doctors needed to find out if nodules in Linda’s lungs were cancerous. “I had the lung biopsy in June,” Linda said. They prayed as a family, along with prayer warriors from across the nation.
“We have a faith, and I am not afraid of dying,” she said. “With a stage IV cancer diagnosis, I was sad about everything I thought I was going to miss.”
Again, God had other plans.
The biopsy results were negative, and Linda’s cancer diagnosis was recategorized to stage I, with cancer only located in her breast.
“The news changed everything,” Linda said. “I had already planned my funeral songs before we found out the lung nodules were benign. It was truly a blessing from God.”
In August, Linda began six rounds of chemotherapy treatments with Dr. Nabi at the INTEGRIS Health Cancer Institute in Enid. As of the first week in October, Linda has completed three rounds and is more than halfway done.
“We just keep praying,” Linda said. “I know the tumor is reduced. I can already feel it. I know I am in good hands.”