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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Local mom shares her story with the disease

Posted at 10:09 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 11:28:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and research shows 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Perhaps you or someone you love has battled the disease. It's a diagnosis that can change everything in an instant. The life you once knew is gone and you're faced with a jarring new reality and a long road ahead.

Theresa Orr is a teacher, wife, and mother of two little ones. I asked her to share more of her journey with us after participating in one of our Let's Connect panels a few weeks ago.

She mentioned she experienced an aching pain she felt in her right side that felt like a jolt of electricity. Theresa said it was a feeling she never felt before and shocked by the size of the lump she found.

Soon, she went to the doctor and started to get some answers. It was on May 11, 2021 her doctor phoned her and revealed the news that this 32-year-old mother had breast cancer.

With no family history of the disease, the diagnosis stunned Theresa as she held her young daughter in her arms. It wasn't long after, she stopped teaching to focus on her new reality and future ahead.

In the last 5 months, she's received 16 rounds of chemo treatments at the Spectrum Health Cancer Center. Theresa is thankful she found the lump when she did and didn't brush it off because things could've been a lot different.

It was a journey she never saw coming, but it also taught her a strength she never knew she had. She says breast cancer taught her how resilient her body is and how resilient she is as a person.

Doctors say being young and breast feeding decreases your chances of breast cancer. But it's still important to have regular check ups and talk to your doctor if something doesn't feel right.

As for Theresa, her surgery is coming up and so is her 33rd birthday. She says her new motto this time will be "33 and cancer free."

Cancer knows no age, wealth or gender, but for patients one of the best things is loving support from family and friends. Many who go through treatment face a lot of caution and isolation during long rounds of chemo or radiation due to compromised immune systems. But a simple FaceTime check in or in person hello from a distance can make all the difference in the world.

If you would like more information about how you can help in the fight against breast cancer click here.