Local woman urges yearly exams
In July 2018, a routine checkup turned Laura Lamb’s world upside down. After her doctor discovered a knot in her breast, Lamb was immediately sent for testing and was diagnosed with breast cancer a week later.
“It was very scary. Of course the unknown is hard, and the waiting is hard,” Lamb said. “He was concerned enough to send me on the very next day. It led to a biopsy and within the next week, my world was turned upside down.”
A wife, mom and teacher at Barkley Bridge Elementary, Lamb said she was determined not to let the diagnosis define her. She said she decided early to continue to work through her treatments and to not miss a single moment of life.
“My youngest son was a senior that year, and he played football. I was determined I was not going to miss anything. I was not going to allow it to define me, so that helped – to keep going for him and to be there for him with all of his lasts of graduating high school,” she said. “My oldest had just graduated from Auburn and was working. I think it was hard for them to see their mother sick because they had never seen it before. I was determined that I didn’t want them to see me sick, and they were part of what kept me going.”
Along with her determination to keep to her normal schedule, Lamb had the support of her family, friends, coworkers and students. She said her husband attended every appointment and was there for her through everything. She also had help from support groups and said her students helped keep her mind off of what was happening.
“I think keeping busy and keeping my mind off of myself definitely helped,” Lamb said. “The prayers and help from family and friends was overwhelming, and that helped a lot too.
“When you go to school, and you’re surrounded by children who need you, you kind of forget about your needs,” she added. “I taught third grade. The kids were wonderful, and their parents were wonderful. If they even suspected their kid was sick, they didn’t send them to school, just to help keep me healthy.
“When children tell you they are praying for you, that makes you feel good.”
Lamb said she originally opted to have a mastectomy, but after pinpointing the type of breast cancer, her doctor suggested chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
“The protocol is to undergo chemotherapy and immunotherapy prior to surgery because those drugs can actually cause the tumor to diminish completely,” Lamb said. “I went through the chemotherapy and the immune therapy for six months. After going through that, there was no sign of the tumor at all. It was very effective.”
Despite being cancer free, Lamb’s treatment journey was not over. She still had to have surgery to place markers, and she continues to take medicine to suppress hormones to help prevent the cancer from returning. She also returns to the doctor every six months for a check–up.
Lamb said part of the reason for her successful treatment was early detection. Her doctor discovered the tumor although Lamb had not felt any symptoms.
“It is very important for women to get their yearly exams,” Lamb said. “I would not have found my tumor until it had grown more if my doctor hadn’t found it. I was very healthy and had no reason to even think something was wrong. My mother–in–law said I was the healthiest person in our family.”
After her experience, Lamb said Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a reminder that new and more effective treatments are being researched. She said contributions and support from the community makes the difference for life–saving new treatment options.
“I dare say there are few people who have not been affected by breast cancer at some point,” Lamb pointed out. “Whether it’s a friend or family member, it just reiterates the need for research. Now they are going for immunotherapy instead of just chemotherapy, and that’s saving lives.
“It is not just about remembering those who have passed, or those who have suffered through it, but the research that is important to continue.”