Tonya Reid thriving, not just surviving cancer


 By Donna Thornton/News Editor

June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day, a time to honor and encourage those who are successfully battling cancer of any kind.

Friends of one local cancer survivor will tell you, talk to Tonya Reid, and you’re the one who will be encouraged.

Reid said she found a lump in her breast herself. “I was reading in bed and reached for the remote and I felt something,” she said.

“I called the doctor the next day. That was in August, right before school started. It was not good timing, but it never is.”

Reid is a mother of two and a psychometrist with the Etowah County School System. She does testing for special education students and travels between seven schools.

After her diagnosis, she found herself undergoing a bilateral masectomy in September. Because of the size of her tumor, doctors recommended chemotherapy and radiation.

“I just decided right from the start that I was going to keep it positive,” Reid said. “Through lots of prayer and support we’ve been able to do that. We’ve just taken it day by day.”

Reid said initially, when she was wondering if she would be able to work during treatment, a friend of hers, Ellen Hopkins, told her that when she went through the same experience, she continued to work.

“I thought if she can do it, I can do it, too,” Reid said, and it was a tremendous help to her.

“That was the best thing for me,” Reid said. “It was just a God-send – my job.”

Another help to Reid during cancer treatment was the “Look Good … Feel Better” program, an American Cancer Society sponsored program that gives women battling cancer free cosmetics, wigs and scarves and instructions on using cosmetics in the safest most hygienic way during a time when treatments might leave them more susceptible to illness or infection.

Reid attended the program at the cancer center at Marshall Medical Center South. The Gadsden Regional Medical Center Cancer Center also offers sessions of “Look Good … Feel Better.”

“They give you all kinds of make-up,” Reid said, and she found that getting “made up” every day made a difference in her day.

“When you get up and put make-up on and feel like you look good it makes you feel better,” Reid said. “At least it does for me. The days I didn’t go to work and stayed home in my pajamas all day, I felt worse.”

She said said she had wonderful support from her coworkers, as well as the support of other friends and her church.

“Deidra Ledford was at the top of that list,” Reid said, but the list was long. “Things we didn’t even know we needed, they would just show up with.

“Everyone has been so wonderful and helped us so much,” Reid said.

Reid said she’s doing very well now. Because she had to have radiation, she must wait until  her skin is completely healed before having reconstructive surgery – the last step of her treatment.

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