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Life goes on, even with breast cancer

A personal account from CNN's Jill Dougherty

May 25, 2000
Web posted at: 5:28 p.m. EDT (2128 GMT)

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 182,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. But early detection and a variety of treatment options are improving the outlook for many women. CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty knows first hand about the illness -- she was recently diagnosed and is currently undergoing treatment. Here's her story in her own words.

MOSCOW (CNN) -- In Moscow, back at work, it seems like nothing's changed.

There's videotape to screen and scripts to write and reports on breaking news.

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  MESSAGE BOARD
 

But for now, this is only half of my life.

In the United States, before returning to Russia, I show up for my last chemotherapy treatment with Adriamycin, what my doctors say is the best drug for fighting my breast cancer. They call it the "red devil." It sounds like something connected with communism, I joke.

When my doctor first gave me my diagnosis, I took notes. It was almost like interviewing him -- "So what's this cancer thing all about?" It was very cold-blooded.

It became much less cold-blooded later.

One of the hardest things for me -- and as I found out later, for many people dealing with cancer -- is being treated like a sick person when you don't necessarily feel sick.

Sandy Spender, a member of my cancer support group who has lost her hair in treatment, often dispenses with a hat. "It's funny because I feel so good," she says. "I'll go to the store and I don't have a hat on and I know people are probably looking at me and then I forget why!"

In Moscow's chilly weather, I try to keep my head covered and my exercise schedule as normal as possible -- just like back in the States.

There are times when it's hard for me to forget I'm going through treatment. Like when I take off my wig and see my own bald head. But even this side effect can have its funny moments.

At my computer at home, or in Moscow, work doesn't have to stop.

For me, and for thousands of people in my shoes, neither does life.



RELATED STORIES:
Growing evidence indicates that exercise cuts chance of breast cancer
March 13, 2000
Bone marrow test may help determine odds of breast cancer relapse
February 23, 2000
First digital mammography system approved
January 31, 2000
Estrogen/progestin combination increases risk of breast cancer, AMA reports
January 25, 2000
Breast cancer detection: Upping your odds for survival
May 25, 1999
The staging of breast cancer
May 25, 1999
Breast cancer 2000: From terrifying diagnosis to manageable condition
May 11, 1999
Study endorses quick, easy breast biopsy
May 4, 1999
FDA approves new device to clarify ambiguous mammogram results
April 19, 1999
Study: Low-fat diet does not appear to cut risk of breast cancer
March 9, 1999

RELATED SITES:
American Cancer Society's Breast Cancer Resource Center
National Cancer Institute
Cancer Care
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation


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