My name is Geraldine Cotton. I have lived in New Haven for 39 years. I am the mother of two daughters and a granddaughter. My mother died of lung cancer at the age of 58 and my maternal grandmother died of stomach cancer at the age of 63.
In August of 2000, I went for a routine mammogram and was shocked to learn that a lump had been detected in my right breast. I remember saying to myself that this was nothing, but when the radiologist suggested that I see a surgeon, I cried. In September, I had a lumpectomy and three lymph nodes removed.
My daughters and my best friend went with me to the surgeon’s office to go over the biopsy results. We were told that the lump was malignant, but the lymph nodes were negative. The surgeon said that I needed to see an oncologist. Having worked with Dr. Arthur Levy years ago and remembering how hard he worked with cancer patients, he was my choice. Dr. Levy explained that the type of cancer I had required chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However before I could begin chemotherapy, I had to undergo tests to be sure that my heart could withstand the chemotherapy It never occurred to me that I would not conquer the cancer. I had faith in God that He would see me through it. I thank God for surrounding me with people that helped me to stay strong. There is my co-worker, Betsy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and started chemotherapy two weeks before me. We went through radiation therapy at the same time. Betsy and I became each others support system. My daughter, Rsheemah, and my girl friend, Marilyn, rearranged their schedules to accompany me to all of my chemotherapy treatments. Finally, my church family that gave me spiritual support.
I have now been cancer free for three years, but I am still followed closely every three months by Dr. Arthur Levy and Dr. Joyce Chung, radiation oncologist.
August 2000 was a wake up call for me, for it took me a year to go for that mammogram test. My gynecologist had given me the requisition a year prior and I didn’t get the test. I now feel that God has given me a second chance and I value this gift of life.