BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 13% of women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, but one South Mississippi woman never thought she would be in that number.
Monica Ellis, area manager at the Staff Pro Workforce Solutions Biloxi office, always led a normal and healthy lifestyle, but everything changed after her diagnosis in December.
“So you think, ‘How do I have cancer?’ and here I am,” said Ellis. “I am one of the women diagnosed with cancer last year.”
Ellis joins nearly 3.5 million women in the country dealing with the same type of treatments and medical expenses for HER2-positive breast cancer.
“You always expect cancer is for other persons,” said Ellis. “Other women, well it’s not anymore.”
While she gets used to the hurdles, she sees the impact the disease has on her loved ones.
“It’s not just a diagnosis just for you as a patient, it’s a diagnosis for all the family,” said Ellis.
Ellis said her household faces health and financial strain due to the cancer, which mirrors the same hardships already present due to COVID-19.
“My immune system is pretty compromised right now, so I have to be extra careful,” said Ellis.
Along with following COVID-19 safety guidelines, Ellis’ two teenage sons are now virtually learning, in order to minimize the chance of infection. However, she remains on the clock while her husband left his job to be by her side.
“He had to stop working to be a full-time, caregiving driver for me,” said Ellis.
As the family faces the worst that breast cancer has to offer, they hope others will learn from their examples and get regular mammograms, despite age or family health history.
“If you feel something that is not usual, that is not right, advocate for yourself,” Ellis said.
They also hope people send donations to organizations battling to end cancer.
“A company that is making research, medical, scientific research for patients with cancers,” said Ellis. “They are the ones that need the money.”
In the meantime, Ellis leans on friends, doctors, coworkers and loved ones until she wins her battle..
“It’s what keeps me going through this phase in my life,” said Ellis.
If you want to learn more about breast cancer, and symptoms, click here.