As a medical technologist, Geraldine Evans has always been interested in almost anything medical and is constantly reading about health care.
“I found the first lump in my breast when I was 14 years old, and it turned out not to be cancerous,” she said.
But 20 years ago when she found another one during a self breast examination, the news wasn’t so good.
She told her local physician, Dr. Perry Cattau, who sent her immediately to Dr. Richard Zorn in Tallahassee for further evaluation. Following Zorn’s examination, Evans said she said to him, “Just tell me it’s not.”
The mother of three daughters, ages 25, 23 and 18 at the time, worried how her children would take the news. Their father had died of lung cancer.
Zorn told Evans there was a 66 percent chance the lump was not cancerous, and a 33 percent chance it was. Without a biopsy, he operated and removed the lymph nodes and the all of the cancer. Evans went through the surgery and was home the following day. The surgery was followed by six weeks of radiation.
“I worked for half a day for six weeks, then went downstairs for the radiation treatment. In all the treatments took about 3 minutes each time. There were no side effects, no swelling of the arm or anything like that. I was a little concerned that I would lose my hair, but the radiation seemed to make my hair grow. It took almost a year for the radiation to be completely out of my body,” she said.
Evans said before the surgery, she called her sister and told her about the doctor’s prognosis.
“She called a minister; I don’t even know his name, but he met us at a service station and prayed with us, then he said, ‘You will be healed’; that was the first and last time I ever saw him,” she said.
She also became proactive in her own health. Evans said she changed her diet which includes more fruit and vegetables, exercises regularly and removes herself from second-hand smoke.
After the surgery, Evans tried to attend cancer support group meetings and classes offered for survivors. The groups, she said, seemed to be filled with people who wanted only to talk about the cancer and their cancer-related problems. The meeting became depressing, and Evans stopped attending.
“I felt the Lord had something else for me to do,” she said.
The next year she attended the Relay for Life, the signature event and a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The luminaria ceremony, Evans said, was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
The following year she organized a team called Healing Hands with the help of her church family at Greater Tanner Chapel AME Church.
“We try to raise a $1,000 or more each year. I would say, conservatively, we’ve raised over $15,000 since we started participating,” Evans said.