Cancer doesn’t abide by guidelines. It doesn’t care about age, race or socioeconomic status. It doesn’t care whether you have insurance or don’t. Just ask Angelina Scott.
“On my 21st birthday, I was at the University Hospital ER waiting room, waiting to find out,” said Scott, a North Augusta resident.
In 1995, she gave birth to her first child and found a small lump in her breast. Doctors told her it wasn’t anything to worry about, but she knew something was wrong. Two years and a different doctor later, she got the diagnosis – ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive type of breast cancer, where the cancer cells are contained in the breast milk duct.
By then, the cancer, although still self-contained, was much larger. In January 1998, she had the cancer removed but kept the breast. The surgery left a huge scar. She had radiation, and her doctors gave her a warning.
“She told me, ‘You will always need to check yourself,’” she said.
Over the years, she’s had additional run-ins with the disease, 16 surgeries and many more radiation treatments. Her last brush with the disease came six years ago. Doctors thought she had cancer in her parotid glands. The cells looked suspicious, but additional tests showed they weren’t cancerous.
Scott said the fear associated with the word “cancer” never leaves, no matter how many times you hear it. When doctors were convinced there was cancer in the glands, she refused chemo, prompting additional tests. She didn’t want her then-7-year-old daughter, Taloria, to see her waste away. She wanted to move to Florida with her husband, Matthew, and live life until there was no more life to live. She said she made a simple prayer, telling God she accepted whatever he had for her.
“I was not mad. God heard me,” she said.
With the parotid scare, she went through some preventative radiation treatments at her doctor’s suggestion.
Getting the medical attention she has needed hasn’t always been easy. Although Scott has worked, she has been uninsured or underinsured and has had huge medical bills. She said it was cheaper to pay the non-insurance IRS tax penalty than buy insurance that paid no benefits on what she really needed.
But Scott is passionate about life and living her days to the fullest. She believes in the work of the American Cancer Society and its Relay for Life, in which she participates. Until a few years ago, she had no idea of the resources and support groups available through the ACS.
Her daughter recently turned 13, and Scott said if anyone had told her six years ago that she’d live to see her daughter reach that age, she probably wouldn’t have believed them.
“It’s been a miracle seeing her grow.”