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Chapman to serve as Relay for Life’s Honorary Chair

By Staff | Feb 28, 2020

Christina Chapman, honorary chair for the 2020 Jefferson County Relay for Life, shared her story at a recent Relay for Life event. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — Life was good for Christina Chapman in 2018. After living in Jefferson County with her family for 20 years, life was altogether going as planned.

Then, on Nov. 24, four days before her 49th birthday, Chapman found a lump on her breast. While she normally had annual checkups, she had been so busy with the chores of life, she missed her annual mammogram.

“I had no concerns before that. I didn’t think about it,” Chapman said. “It was almost like a dream.”

That Saturday, Chapman called the doctor and was told if it concerned her, to visit the emergency room. And that’s exactly what she did.

“I had an upcoming flight — I didn’t want to wait,” Chapman said, mentioning she was preparing to travel for work that Monday. “After an examination and an ultrasound, the PA came in and sat down next to me on the bed and said, ‘do not go anywhere Monday, stay home.'”

Chapman recalls the discharge papers saying “4B Moderate Suspicion for Malignancy,” which, she said, had her hyperventilating.

Chapman shared her story recently at the kick-off event for the Jefferson County Relay for Life, telling those in attendance she did not wait for her doctor to call her, but rather was at his office when it opened Monday morning. She demanded to be seen and, after sharing her emergency room discharge papers, found herself getting an exam. An opening was available that same day for a 3D mammogram.

“The pathology report was full of words and numbers, but to sum it up, I had triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer with lymph node involvement,” Chapman said. “The tumor was the size of a button, but by the time I saw a surgeon a few days later, it was the size of an egg and had spread to the skin.”

The official diagnosis came Dec. 4, and 10 days later, Chapman was receiving her first chemotherapy session, lasting six to eight hours. The treatment plan was an aggressive one to include six treatments every 21 days chemotherapy regimen, surgery, radiation, maintenance Herceptin and endocrine therapy for five years.

Chapman’s treatments ended in April 2019, after which was followed a modified radical mastectomy on May 8 of that year.

“I still have the voicemail I saved two days after surgery saying ‘I’m calling to let you know that your pathology report shows that your cancer is completely melted away from the chemotherapy so that’s got a complete pathologic response, very few patients get that,'” she shared.

Chapman still endured 25 rounds of radiation treatments daily as a precaution, and has maintenance medication for the next four years.

“But I can still say today that I am cancer free,” she told those gathered at the kick off.

“I do not take life for granted. I relay, not for my cancer, but for others and their caregivers who support them. I learned that you cannot do this alone,” Chapman said, praising her family and friends for the support they gave during her cancer diagnosis and treatment that followed.