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Healthwatch 16: Cancer survivor racing toward next goal

A courageous woman from Schuylkill County kept her footing when faced with a cancer diagnosis and is ready to take on a new uphill climb.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — A cancer diagnosis is one of the most frightening realities anyone can face, but the right treatment gives many a fighting chance.

When Lori Mack of Frackville went for a routine screening, she had no idea how much her life was going to change. 

"I didn't know until I had my mammogram in September 2019, and that's when they detected something unusual," Mack said.

An ultrasound confirmed what doctors feared, and a month later, Mack was diagnosed with Invasive Ductile Carcinoma, breast cancer.  

"It was very difficult because, at the same time, my late husband was diagnosed in August with esophageal cancer," she said. "So it was like dealing with his diagnosis at the same time as mine."

Mack began chemotherapy and underwent five weeks of radiation at Geisinger Cancer Services in Pottsville. 

Her oncologist, Dr. Greg Treharne, said it was the right move.

"When they run the numbers and look how people of doing, they find that the radiation will typically drop the odds of that cancer coming back by about 50%," Treharne said.

Mack said the staff at Geisinger in Pottsville helped her push through the pain, keeping her positive and encouraging her to remain active. 

"Always an encouraging word. Always a smile on a face," she recalled.

Her family and faith kept her going. After her last day of treatment, she turned her attention to a new goal.

"Once I finished up radiation last October, I started to feel well again, and I thought I'm gonna try and do a half-marathon," Mack said.

Her strength regained, Mack is training for two half-marathons in the coming months. Having crossed the finish line in her treatment, she's prepared to finish a new race. 

Dr. Treharne isn't surprised.

"She has something that with proper treatment, the outcome tends to be excellent," he said.

"When you're given a cancer diagnosis, it's so scary, and you really don't know where it's going to lead," Mack added. "When I'm feeling as healthy as I do now, I'm just so grateful for every day and for every step."

 Mack is encouraging others to keep up with their mammograms. You can find more information on breast imaging and intervention at Geisinger.org.

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