Support group helped her cope
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Doris Faulk is a survivor. She has been through what women dread – a bout with breast cancer. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it seems only fitting to profile someone who has been ”through the fire“ and is a staunch supporter of those who are going through the same thing.
Approximately one in eight women get breast cancer in their lifetime and early diagnosis is now associated with very high cure rates, according to www.mydna.com. The risk of breast cancer varies widely in different countries and is much higher in western countries.
Screening for breast cancer has three parts, monthly self-exams beginning in the early 20s; yearly physician exams beginning at the age of 40; and annual mammograms beginning at the age of 40. Ten percent of breast cancer is thought to be due to genetic factors and women with a strong family history of breast cancer should be evaluated to see if they fit into a high-risk category of having it themselves. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of breast cancer is higher in Caucasian women than in African American women, but African American women have a higher mortality rate.
Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain and in fact there may be no symptoms at all. As the cancer grows, it causes changes that women should always watch for, such as a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area, a change in the size or shape of the breast, a discharge from the nipple or a change in the color or feel of the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple. A woman (or man) should see the doctor if she (or he) notices any of these changes. Most of the time it is not cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure.
An abnormal area on a mammogram, a lump or other changes in the breast can be caused cancer or by other, less serious problems. To find out for sure, a doctor will do a careful physical exam, a family history and ask lots of questions. The doctor may also use palpation, mammography or ultrasound to make a determination if cancer is present. Based on these exams, the doctor may decide to do nothing further except to see the patient on a regular basis. He may decide to do a biopsy, either by needle or surgery. If cancer is found, the patient is usually referred to a specialist for treatment, which can be radiation, surgery or a combination of both.
Faulk was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.
Faulk got involved with the local support group for those who have had breast cancer and gives those meetings credit with helping her cope with her problem.
Faulk grew up in New Iberia, La., and graduated from New Iberia Senior High School in 1944. She worked for an eye doctor after graduation until she married in 1946 to C.D. Faulk, who was from Generett, a neighboring town. He was in the military and a friend of her brother.
The couple lived in New Iberia for 25 years and their two children, Gerald and Brenda, were born there. They moved to Gretna, La., and lived there for two and one half years before moving to Brewton in 1973. Her husband worked for Exxon and they moved around a lot over the years. She always traveled with her husband, except for the time Exxon sent him to Iran. The company did not send her there, as it was not the most stable place to be.
Faulk credits her faith as being one of the most important things in her life. She and her family attend St. Maurice Catholic Church here in Brewton.
She has been exceptionally busy for the past couple of months. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana she invited some of her family members to come to Brewton. Their home was flooded and now is covered in mold and mildew. Thirteen family members from St. Bernard Parish were in the Faulk household for a while, but now all but two are living at the Brewton Church of Christ building on Douglas Avenue.
Faulk is busy caring for her husband these days. She has a collection of dolls that she has gathered from many places, including some from her trip to Greece.