God gave her a sign to see doctor
By LEILA S. CASE
AMERICUS — A sign from God led Genie Powell to the doctor.
“God knew I was not going to find a lump in my breast unless He put it in full view,” says Powell. “I didn’t practice monthly self-breast examinations, nor was I initially alarmed when an irregularity in one of my breasts was noticed. In fact my husband Rick and I actually joked about it. However, I thought I should see my obstetrician/gynecologist in Albany right away although a mammogram 10 months earlier was fine.”
Powell’s experience with breast cancer in 2007 was a bump in the road that sent her reeling for a while, but she rarely thinks about it now, although the memory is as fresh in her mind as if it were yesterday.
Positive, cheerful and energetic, Powell lives life to the fullest. She is the epitome of a breast cancer survivor and stays busy with community and family activities; the most recent undertaking with her husband was the renewal and re-purpose of Sally Run, the 1750s log home of his late parents, Richard and Eleanor Powell, into a special events venue.
On a recent fall afternoon, Genie Powell sat in the sun room at Sally Run where soft afternoon light filtered through the wall of windows and talked candidly about her breast cancer experience.
“When I went for an appointment with my doctor, Leslie Gaydos, MD, I knew in my heart that I had breast cancer,” recalls Powell.
The next series of events proved Powell correct. After an unsatisfactory ultrasound followed by a lumpectomy, the surgical removal of the tumor, she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. Powell was 43 at the time.
“I was upset,” says Powell. “Just knowing you are walking around with something that could kill you isn’t a good feeling, but I felt confident the cancer was not going to get me. I was more worried about how my children and husband would react. Rick took it very hard because he lost his mom to cancer and the memory of her death was still fresh. He was very supportive through everything, drove me to every single appointment and was there every step of the way.
“I immediately shared the news with my friends,” says Powell. They were encouraging and helped Powell meet head-on the newest challenge in her life.
“I jumped on the problem the day after my diagnosis by having lunch with friends, several of whom are Pink Pals, an organization composed of breast cancer survivors, who guided me toward making the decision on a treatment plan,” says Powell.
They suggested she contact Georgia Breast Care in Marietta for a consultation.
“I knew about the facility through other Americus friends, who as former patients had good experiences. I went for a consultation, liked their staff and I felt confident this was where I needed to be,” says Powell. “Caroline Wheeler Spencer, a certified nurse practitioner and daughter of Wes and Jean Wheeler of Americus, was on the staff at the time. She guided me through the whole process in one day from removal of both breasts and the reconstruction,” says Powell, adding that the most difficult time was waiting.
“I am fortunate my breast cancer was discovered early stage and hormone positive type, which is the easiest to treat,” she said. Chemotherapy or radiation treatments were unnecessary.
She explains, “My oncologist enrolled me in a trial test called Oncotype DX. The test results show if there is the likelihood of recurrence and if they are below a certain number, chemotherapy isn’t needed – just Tamoxifen (an oral medication) that I take. I had stage one and my lymph nodes were clear,” says Powell. “I am very fortunate.”
These results led to her decision not to have the BRCA (BReast CAncer) test that determines whether the cancer cell is genetic and could possibly be passed on to future generations. However, Powell said her daughter, Hannah Kroll, was advised to have mammograms 10 years before the recommended age.
Today, Powell sees her oncologist for annual checkups and blood work.
“A scan, my doctor says, is like a moment in time, but blood work tells a story that watches everything over time,” says Powell.
“I am very blessed,” says Powell. “I feel like God is watching over me and wants me to be around here on earth a lot longer.”
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