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Fighting breast cancer

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
"The results are positive, you have breast cancer."

The doctor's words isolated Julie Jolly's body and mind, 509th Force Support Squadron Child Development Center director.

Questions and concerns immediately flooded her head.

She was about to embark on unfamiliar territory, and she tried to figure out her next move.

Julie's doctor scheduled her biopsy in January 2011, less than a month after her mammogram.

She read every piece of information she could find, which she said wasn't in her best interest. There were so many things online that scared her and made her feel worse.

Her tumor was the size of a dime and her doctor said she was in stage 1E, and it was an aggressive tumor, which meant the cancer was growing fast. Fortunately, she was a candidate for a mammoSite, which delivers radiation from inside the space left after surgeons remove the breast tumor. Radiation is delivered through seed implants, which are planted inside a balloon that is placed inside the woman's breast, according to

After that process healed, she endured six-rounds of chemotherapy. During the process, Julie had four blood transfusions because of her fluctuating blood count.
Her doctor ordered her to be extremely careful and not do anything that would cause her to bleed.

Julie decided to unravel her story with her staff and recommended they make an appointment for breast cancer screening.

"Shortly after, a co-worker went and got checked and found out she had a spot also, which was a lot like mine," she said "By getting checked early enough, the cancer wasn't yet in an aggressive stage ... It was scary."

Julie knew one of the side effects of chemotherapy was that she would lose her hair, which for many women can be a traumatic experience.

"It began to fall out by the handfuls, so my husband helped me cut it and I bought a wig," she added. "It was one of the worst experiences."

It would be easy for many to adopt a pessimistic attitude about Julie's circumstance, but she believed in the power of positive thinking, especially when she had the support of family, friends, strangers and others going through similar situations.

"It's funny because there were people that I didn't even know offering positive support," she said. "There was one woman I met during chemo, in her 80s, and her attitude was so positive and so helpful that I thought if she can do it, then there is hope for me."

Julie's staff has also been supportive and wanted Julie to focus on battling the disease.

"They helped take care of work and have helped through this transition," she said. "They are a supportive team."

Julie said she is very fortunate to have such a close family and said they have been behind her 100 percent.

"My mother is a fighter ... She has overcome a huge hurdle," said Jennifer, Julie's daughter.

"She gives me the courage to get through anything I may need to face, because nothing I face can compare to the fear, pain and struggle she went through during her treatment.
"The day I asked her what she was going do about cancer, my mom said, 'I'm going to fight it.' ... That was the happiest day of my life."

Julie continues to combat her cancer because she can't imagine not being there for her family.

"I've got too much I want to do," Julie said.

"I can't express enough how grateful I am to have such a supportive husband and family," she said. "They have been great through everything ... and continue too."

Since her diagnoses Julie has participated in community events such as Relay for Life and plans to work more with survivors once she completes her last chemotherapy session April 7, 2012.

Her hair is starting to grow back, but she still experiences weakness and can't walk as far as she used to without getting worn out.

"I never thought it would happen to me," Julie said "If I would have put it off another year, who knows what would happen.

"I am lucky I caught it as early as I did and I encourage others to do the same," she said.

Julie had a mammogram in July 2011 and the results were clear, but must get one every six-months to ensure the cancer doesn't return.