FIGHTING TO WIN: Throngs turn out for Relay For Life fundraiser



June 5, 2017 - 12:00 AM

For 20 years Shirley Catron has survived the disease that has affected more than 1,300 Allen Countians over the last decade.
Catron is a survivor of breast cancer and has walked in the shoes of those fighting the Godzilla of diseases.
“I think there is a monster in every disease,” she said.
It’s the day-in-and-day-out battle and never knowing what the next day will bring that makes acute illness of any type seem like a war against a beastly entity. A positive attitude is crucial during the fight.
“If you say ‘I am going to give up’ you might as well just write your death certificate,” she said.   “You have to fight. You have to fight.”
Catron fought hard but luck was also on her side. It was during a routine eye examination that an optometrist noticed something was not right and recommended that she see a physician. She followed his advice and saw a doctor who ordered a sonogram. She was diagnosed a short time later with an early stage of the breast disease. She was also fortunate that the levels of estrogen in her body were high enough to allow her to avoid chemotherapy treatments.
“I give (the optometrist) all the credit,” she said of the early detection.
Spreading awareness and educating people about cancer is important to Catron partly because fighting the stigma associated with cancer proved difficult for her. Even today, some people behave as though the disease is contagious, she said. Ignoring the stares in public after a mastectomy in 1997 required that she demonstrate courage.
“It is more accepted now than it was then,” Catron said. “I think it’s more publicized now.”
Still, harder than her own battle with cancer, has been watching friends lose the battle, she said crying.
“I have no idea why I am alive and somebody else passes on,” she said admittedly.
Catron has begun a cancer-support group held the second Saturday of every month at St. John’s Catholic Church. It is at the monthly meetings that she shares a certain camaraderie with other survivors of cancer. Even once it is in remission, everybody worries to some degree that the cancer will come back, she said.
Ironically, Catron’s battle with cancer has had a positive impact on her life. She said she is glad in a way that she experienced her bout with the disease.
“I realize what is important in life now,” she said.

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