Lona Collins


one very hot day in 1979. I was 43 years old at the time. When I got out of the shower, I felt a lump under my right breast. At first, I thought it was probably a blackhead. I asked a nurse and dear friend to check to see if she could feel the lump. She strongly encouraged me to go to Health Services at my place of employment to have the lump checked.

Health Services prompted me to see my OB/GYN, Dr. Paul Packer. Dr. Packer urged me to see my surgeon, Dr. William Mahoney. Dr. Mahoney said, “Let’s give this lump 28 days. I want to see you after the 28 days have passed.” The reason for this is that sometimes, post menstruation, a lump could disappear.

When I returned to see Dr. Mahoney, he said, “Well, the lump is still here.” It was the size of a split pea, very smooth, and the lump moved about easily. There was no pain or tenderness. Dr. Mahoney immediately booked my surgery for a right breast mastectomy. Postsurgery, I found out that my lump was malignant but my lymph nodes were negative. I did not have to 
undergo treatments for my cancer; however, I did have to follow up with my medical doctor, surgeon, and oncologist for blood work and regular checkups for many years.

Before I found the lump, I consistently kept up with my breast self-examinations and the recommended screenings for good health. I routinely had mammograms, pap smears, and any blood work recommended by my physicians. Early detection is so very important, especially when there is a family history of cancer. My grandmother and my oldest sister had uterine cancer.
Both are now deceased.

After finding the lump, I did have fear; but with faith in God, a loving family, extremely skillful physicians, and genuine friends, I was able to weather the storm.

While recovering from my own surgery, I was given the privilege to give back to cancer patients from my hospital bed. A social worker in the hospital requested that I  speak with and encourage some of the patients going through breast cancer while I was still in the hospital. I gave one-on-one support to patients with positive encouragement and conversations. I shared my own experiences and fears with them. I feel confident that our uplifting discussions helped them immensely.

Prior to moving to Connecticut, I researched surgeons and located Dr. Kaye Zuckerman. Dr. Zuckerman is so very caring, and is at the top of her class in intelligence, knowledge, and

My dear sisters, please remember, we must always take an active role in our health by taking advantage of all preventive measures that are available to us to prolong our lives. Self-breast exams are so very important!

On a very positive note, I am so thankful to God, my family, my friends, and my wonderful, caring, physicians for all the support they have given to me over the years. Because of all of them, I am a happy and thankful 35-year survivor!

“You are important!”


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