My name is Antoinette H. (Toni) Dunston. I was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1937 and have lived here all of my life. I attended Winchester Elementary, Bassett Street Jr. High and Hillhouse High Schools – all in New Haven. I am the daughter of William Raymond Horner and Esther Ann Green Horner. I am one of seven children, the proud mother of four children and grandmother of six. I lost my daughter, Jennifer, in 1996, at the age of 34. My grandson, William, was 9 1/2 years old at the time. He is now 21 years of age and thanks to the help of his family is doing well.
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 when a routine mammogram showed a lump in my left breast. Although it caught me by surprise, I don’t remember getting too upset. Maybe it was because I never experienced it with family or friends as far as breast cancer.
After talking with my doctor, he gave me the name of a surgeon. I talked to my daughters, Joy, Julia and my son James about everything and they were so saddened by my diagnosis that it made me very sad. There were so many thoughts going on inside my head at once.
We went to the doctor’s together to talk about my options of having a lumpectomy and my lymph nodes removed in my left breast, or a mastectomy. After the surgery came and six months of chemotherapy and radiation. I recovered well. I don’t recall being too depressed during that time. Nor do I understand why I wasn’t. Maybe because I realized that I had a second chance at life, by the grace of God.
I had more life to live with my family, even though my family’s concern caused them to be over protective, which made me angry at times. Because up to that point I thought I could deal with anything, after losing my daughter in 1996.
Now, nearly 10 years later I see my oncologist, radiologist and surgeon once a year for my annual checkups. And when I hear them say “I’ll see you in a year,” it feels really good!
August of this year will mark 10 years that I’ve been cancer free. It’s a blessing!