Breast cancer survivors praise families for help during recovery

Sherry Scott was trying to help orient a new nurse, juggling a patient giving birth in a room crowded with family members at University Hospital and waiting to hear back from Augusta Oncology Associates about the results of her six-month CT scan.

“I was a little stressed,” she said. “And it was nothing,”

More than three years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, the thought that it could be back stays with her.

“It’s just always in the back of your mind anytime you get a pain somewhere,” she said. “You don’t want to think cancer, but it is just human nature to think that something is going on.”

For Mona Pinnington, Friday was the last checkup with her surgeon about her breast reconstruction and the final appointment after more than a year of treatment for breast cancer, which has changed her as a person and given her a whole new group of friends in other survivors.

“I have stronger bonds with some of the women I’ve met in the last year than some of the friends I’ve had since high school,” she said. “Everybody is so supportive of each other.”

Scott was profiled in The Augusta Chronicle in 2008 during the first part of her treatment and her daughter, Carter, used to be in a dance group with the daughter of Pinnington, who was profiled in The Chronicle as a breast cancer patient last year. The women caught up recently at University’s Miracle Mile Walk.

“It was wonderful to see her and (Pinnington’s daughter) Alexandria, bless her heart,” Scott said. “She’s taller than Mona now just like Carter is taller than me now.”

Both women praise their 12-year-old daughters for their support and their ongoing interest in breast cancer and raising awareness. Alexandria is working to raise money for her endowment for breast cancer through University Health Care Foundation with various efforts, such as a pink lemonade stand called The Big Squeeze that she sets up at events.

“She’s really aware of the effect it has on people,” Pinnington said.

As for mom, she finally has her energy and drive back but “I want to kind of downsize and re-prioritize in more ways than one with just everything,” she said. In addition to managing her CoCo’s Cabana tanning salons, she is a broker for Sunbelt Business Brokers.

“Basically, I bring buyers and sellers together and work as a mediator and take them from listing to closing, through all of the stages,” she said. But Pinnington is also trying to be more aware of the people who helped bring her through this, such as her sister, Justeen, and repay their kindness.

“I just don’t ever want to forget all of the people who gave up so much time and energy to help me,” Pinnington said.

Awareness is important to Scott so events such as the walk are big for her, in addition to smaller gestures such as carrying around pink ribbons in her pocket to hand out, which Carter does, too.

“If we can save one person’s life with this, it is well worth it,” she said. After initially worrying about how much to tell her then-9-year-old daughter, Scott knows she was right to share everything.

“It really amazes me how well she talks to people about it,” she said. “I did the right thing being upfront and honest with her. Not keeping anything from her and having her right there with me through it all.”

Scott’s husband, Rance, was also a big part of her support and provided one of the key lessons she took from her journey.

“More than anything, just how dedicated my husband was to me,” Scott said. “And how strong he is. He’s what added to my strength, just being there for me, through everything.”

Faith was always a big part of Scott’s life but it is even more so now.

“I trust that God can take me through anything and he is beside me every day,” she said. “There’s nothing I can’t conquer without him. You think your faith is strong until you go through something like this, for sure. It just brings you a lot closer to God.”

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