Caring for loved ones helped breast cancer survivor cope with own illness

When Janice Sikes found out in July 1996 that she had breast cancer, all she could really think about were the people who needed her.


Her husband, Larrie Sikes Sr., had a massive stroke in 1988, and for years she was his sole caregiver. She couldn’t burden him with her own devastating health issues.

“When the doctor’s office called and told me the biopsy was positive, it was terrible because really and truly, I had no one to talk to because I couldn’t burden my husband with it because of his illness,” Sikes said, whose husband died in 2002.

Sikes and her only child, Laurie Sikes Jr., were very close, but he was so sick with diabetes that she didn’t feel she could talk to him, either.

She needed a hysterectomy in order to be able to take Tamoxifen to fight the cancer, but she delayed the surgery for three months so she could take
care of her son after his foot was amputated.

“I had so much depending on
me until I really didn’t think about myself so much,” she said. “I just took ahold of the situation and went on
with it.”

Laurie Sikes died in 2007.

Even though it was hard and she felt she had no one to talk to, nursing her loved ones is what kept her going.

“I would lie down, and I’d get up and do whatever I needed to do for (Larrie), and then I’d go lie back down,” she said. “I always had somebody depending on me, and that’s what kept me going.”

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AGE: 82


FAMILY: Granddaughter Erica Cheeks

OCCUPATION: Retired accountant; freelances accounting work

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: July 1996 – mastectomy and Tamoxifen for five years

HER ADVICE: “Just don’t give up hope. Put your trust in God. I think if you worry it keeps you from getting well. If you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it. Face your problem, and just take each day at a time and trust in God. Tell people you love them.”