Cheryl Elms worked to keep her sense of humor throughout her cancer treatment.
“I was transparent through all of it,” said Elms, who took to her social media pages to post of her pole dancing – with an IV pole that is – and wearing a wacky pink wig, as a way to fight the emotional side effects the disease can bring.
She also used all the fun photo filters she could to dress up her photos. Elms was diagnosed in Dec. 2015 after a routine mammogram picked up something suspicious. While the doctors didn’t diagnose cancer immediately, she said she “just knew” something wasn’t right after a second mammogram and sonogram.
“I had a biopsy the next day and I saw it,” said Elms, a licensed practical nurse at Fort Gordon’s Connelly Health Clinic.
Elms watched her biopsy and could tell from the suspicious growth’s irregular borders that it wasn’t simply a cyst; she knew it was malignant. Her Feb. 2016 lumpectomy was followed with 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation.
“I’m cancer-free,” she said after recently having her second six-month mammogram. She encourages every woman to follow through on their routine tests.
Cancer changed her life more than physically.
“I didn’t expect to go through so many emotions until they hit me. I didn’t expect I would learn to love myself in so many different ways, a cancer patient, bald, sick, then on to learning to love myself as survivor. It’s OK to come out of this experience different,” she said.
Elms said she received a lot of support from family and friends through the process. Co-workers donated their time to her, and others helped financially.
“People came from every direction,” she said. She encourages anyone going through cancer to accept help, even in the smallest things if it’s offered. Now that she’s on the other side, she wants to help others who are facing cancer now.
”I am very active in helping others going through the same thing. I want others to feel loved. I really tune in to others with health conditions and want to just talk about it with someone who understands,” she said.