Three-Time Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Remarkable Story

Oct 12, 2023 | Patient Stories

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In 1994, Trudy Marlbrough faced a battle that shaped her: a diagnosis of breast cancer. Although she experienced 25 years of remission, her cancer has returned twice in recent years.

Trudy has received care throughout her journey from Our Lady of Lourdes J.D. Moncus Cancer Center.

The Initial Battle

At age 24, Trudy had just given birth to her first son when she was diagnosed. The cancer was Stage 1, and she had surgery and completed chemotherapy treatments.

“Once every three weeks I did the chemo,” Trudy says. “I was so sick I couldn’t even care for my son.”

She persevered through the treatments and went into remission for 25 years.

Courage When Facing Recurrence

In 2019 cancer struck again, this time in her other breast. Although the cancer was still in Stage 1, its aggressive nature demanded swift action. Trudy quickly had surgery and began intense treatments.

The cancer retreated, only to resurface in 2022, this time in her lymph nodes. Despite overwhelming challenges, Trudy met each obstacle head-on.

“I was so scared knowing I was going through it again,” Trudy says. “I had a biopsy in the office and had the surgery scheduled quickly after that.” After the removal of nine lymph nodes, she had chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The treatments took a toll on her body.

“I struggled so much with chemotherapy. Later, I began radiation treatments, which were every day for six weeks,” Trudy says. “I had good days and bad days.”

Her surgeon, Jacob Landry, MD, didn’t see any further sign of cancer. Trudy remains on medication and must listen to her body, resting when she gets tired.

“I’m still working, and some days I’ll be tired. I keep going and I do what I can do,” Trudy says. “I know when I need to take care of myself and relax in some way.”

Survivorship Support

After her most recent surgery, Trudy acknowledged the emotional toll she was experiencing.

“I had a hard time as far as dealing with this. It was overwhelming,” she says. Her doctor advised counseling, talking with a professional about her experience. “I put it to the side for a long time before I said, ‘you know what, I do need to talk to somebody.’”

That support helped Trudy find strength in vulnerability and get through to the other side. She encourages others to do the same and seek mental health support when a diagnosis is overwhelming.

Her advice to others facing their own health challenges is simple: prioritize your health. She emphasizes the importance of regular mammograms and self-examinations. Even after her double mastectomy, Trudy continues to examine herself diligently.

“Women need to make sure that they take mammograms and do it every year,” Trudy says.

Strength from Family and Friends

In addition to her care team at Our Lady of Lourdes, Trudy found solace in the care she received from her family and friends who would cook for her, bring her to medical appointments and more. Her two sons and two grandchildren along with aunties and cousins became her pillars of strength.

“I thank God that things turned out the way they have,” she says. “I’m still here. I’m still a mother to my sons and a Grammy to my grandchildren. That’s another thing that just keeps me going.”

Early detection is key to fighting breast cancer. Learn more about our breast health and imaging services across our health system.

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