Like clockwork every month, Theresa Prag performed breast self-examinations. Every year the Lindenhurst resident received a clean bill of health when she underwent a mammogram and ultrasound, an additional screening test that helps doctors see abnormalities in dense breasts. But a few months after her Oct. 2012 mammogram and ultrasound came back negative, Terry felt a lump in her right breast. She was diagnosed with an aggressive, advanced cancer.
“I could not believe what I was hearing,” recalled Terry, who had gotten her doctor’s call while comforting a friend who recently had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Following her diagnosis, she embarked on a harrowing cancer journey that included 20 weeks of chemotherapy, 30 radiation treatments and a double mastectomy. Multiple breast and breast reconstruction surgeries followed.
During her treatment, she found the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition’s “Helping Hand,” where she now works full-time as the program’s coordinator. “Neighbors and friends cooked meals,” she said, “but when they couldn’t do it, the coalition came in,” which helped with housecleaning and provided financial aid. “It’s helpful when you have someone on the other end of the phone who’s been through this,” she said.
Determined to not let cancer “get me,” Terry took her doctor’s advice to heart to “take care of yourself” by eating nutritious meals and exercising. She also signed up for an internet “joke of the day” and daily webinars on life beyond cancer.
Today, at 55, she’s cancer-free and channels her compassion into helping others battling breast cancer while promoting self-advocacy and education.