It’s been a decade now since we started The Heroes Project, our way of celebrating survivorship and supporting the fight against cancer. Every year in this issue, we introduce a new group of survivors and tell their stories in print and online. Stories of courage, of hope and of remarkable resilience. There are well over 100 Gwinnett Magazine Heroes.
Once you choose hope, anything is possible and better things are coming, like a cure for all types of cancer. Pain is real, but so is hope.
Early detection and self-examinations have led Barbara Fields to live by this mantra: “I caught cancer, it didn’t catch me.” But no one can say that cancer didn’t put up a fight.
The battle started in the summer of 2005 when Barbara found a lump in her left breast that turned out to be cancerous. After lumpectomy surgery, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and six weeks of radiation, round one of Fields vs. Cancer was in the books.
Six years later, a minimally invasive biopsy revealed a pin-sized lump in her right breast. Diagnosis: cancer again. This time, Barbara opted for a mastectomy, four rounds of chemo, and reconstructive surgery.
But cancer got up off the mat; it wasn’t finished fighting. In 2014 a self-examination found a new lump.
“I thought it was scar tissue from the lumpectomy I had done in 2005, but the biopsies revealed it was breast cancer again. I decided to have a mastectomy on the left breast.”
That led to multiple surgeries because of the damaged tissues from the radiation nine years earlier.
“I’m currently on a hormonal therapy treatment for the next five years,” says Barbara, who says that in spite of the fight, she still stands by hope, strength, and courage, adding, “Without the three, I would not be where I am today.”
Summing up her survival, she says, “Through the hair loss twice, two latissimus dorsi flap surgeries, drainage tubes, and painful nights, I’m still standing and I thank God every day for my blessing.”
But Barbara is not keeping that optimistic outlook to herself.
“I also continue my therapy by giving back to other cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers by volunteering my time with the American Cancer Society, Beyond the Ribbon, and several other organizations.”
Her faith and positive attitude—along with the encouragement of a survivorship group—has helped Barbara survive not one but three battles against cancer. Those pillars of hope, strength, and courage are more than just slogans to Barbara.
“Once you choose hope, anything is possible and better things are coming, like a cure for all types of cancer. Pain is real, but so is hope.”
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do; it comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t do. It comes from lifting yourself up when you’re going through the fight.”
They don’t come more courageous than Barbara Fields. And what is courage to her?
“To keep going, to face the cancer ordeal and all the treatment plans that come with it, to know that you can conquer anything. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear.”
Early detection and self-examination saved Barbara’s life, a life she doesn’t take for granted. She’s a three-time cancer survivor who lives on by hope, strength, and courage. One who will keep fighting till the final bell.
“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.”
Barbara’s story made possible by a grant from Brightside I.T.
Thank you for helping us to share Barbara’s inspirational story.
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