Life after cancer can be free of fear.
In 2003, when Toni Naquin learned that she had Stage I breast cancer, her first thought was, “I am not going to die,” she says. “I remember thinking: ‘I have a baby that I can’t abandon. I will beat this.’” Naquin was the first in her family to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her son, Ryder, was just 10 months old as she underwent a lumpectomy, six months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation to fight the rapidly growing cancer. “I put all of my trust in God, and followed my doctor’s orders,” she says. “My husband, Chris, was my rock.”
Luckily, Naquin experienced few side effects from chemo, aside from losing her hair. “Our son was bald, and everyone said that he and I looked so much alike!” she says.
But Naquin’s journey wasn’t over. She was prescribed Tamoxifen, a drug given to women to discourage recurrence of breast cancer, for five years. “After being on it for six months, a uterine ultrasound was performed — because this drug increases your chance of uterine cancer,” she says. When her gynecologist saw changes in the lining of her uterus, Naquin opted for a total hysterectomy in May 2005 to rule out the possibility of developing uterine cancer.
Three years ago, Naquin’s close friend battled a recurrence of her own breast cancer, ultimately deciding to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. “After watching her go through it again, I decided that that was a road I did not want to go down again either, so I opted to have the same procedure,” Naquin says.
Naquin will be this year’s honorary survivor chair of New Orleans’ Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. “I have told my story so many times — it never gets old,” she says. “Every time I think about all of this, I am reminded how blessed we are.”