Nearly four years ago, Evonne Mobley found out she had breast cancer.
“As soon as I answered the phone and it was my doctor — and I had just had the biopsy that morning — I knew it was bad news,” she said. “He didn’t hedge around it. He just said, ‘Evonne, I hate to have to tell you this, but it is cancer.’ He said I have an appointment scheduled for you tomorrow with Dr. Ray Rudolph.”
After she hung up the phone, Mobley started praying.
“I had prayed that it wasn’t there,” she said, “but now that it was just give me the strength, and He did.”
Mobley said the day she found out she had friends coming over for supper, so she put on her happy face and waited before she told anyone.
“I went by myself (to the doctor appointment) — I didn’t tell anybody in the family — and I probably should have, but I wanted to know more,” she said. “I’m kind of an independent person, and I want to have as many of the facts as I can before I tell other people and cause any unnecessary worry.”
Mobley’s mother knew she had gone to a second mammogram, but she went by herself to the biopsy procedure. After she saw Dr. Rudolph, she called one of her sisters who lives in Savannah and told her. She went with Mobley the next week to tell her mother and youngest sister.
She said telling her mom about the diagnosis was the hardest part of the experience.
“I have three younger sisters, and my mother,” Mobley said. “My father passed away when I was 16, and my stepfather, who was as dear to me as my own father, had died that May. So when I found out, it was like six weeks after his death, and it was really hard to tell my mother. She was 74 at the time.
“She insisted that I come home, and she’d take care of me after I got out of the hospital. I did. I think she was ready
for me to go after that first week. She was wonderful. I got to spend precious time with my mom that I don’t get to do very often.”
She said the experience allowed her to become even closer with her sisters, who were there for her during the experience.
“I found out for certain on July 13, 2004,” Mobley said. “On Aug. 4, I had a mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, which was my choice to do that rather than a lumpectomy. I had suffered from fibrocystic disease for several years, and every time I would go for a mammogram I would have to have a needle biopsy or have it surgically removed. I just said, if it’s cancer, I want it out of my body.”
Her sisters went with her to her doctor and one of them spent two nights in the hospital with her, putting ice packs on her neck and arms to keep her cool.
“We’ve always been close, but it was a re-bonding, and a reassurance that we’re there for each other.”
Mobley is grateful for the outcome, the experience, and the strength she gained from it.
“My mammogram was what discovered it,” Mobley said. “It was very, very small, like one millimeter in size. It was a calcification, and the cancer was hidden behind the calcification. They say 85 percent of those are benign, but in my case it was not.”
She said that since it had not spread to her lymph nodes she did not have to have radiation or chemotherapy. She said her doctor told her she had a 97 percent chance of survival with no treatment, and he did not recommend treatment in her case.
“Even though I didn’t have to suffer like a lot of women, I told everybody that I knew,” she said. “My Sunday school class, my friends and everybody was praying for me. My church was wonderful in supporting me.”
“A friend of mine, she had breast cancer about 15 years ago, and she came to reassure me that things would be OK, and her comment to me was, ‘Evonne, you’re going to find out that this is a blessing to you.’ My first thought was I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer — that was the last thing that I thought that it would be a blessing,” she said.
“You just don’t know how I have been blessed by having had that, and people, the cards I received, the hugs, people reassuring me, bringing meals to me, people that I knew but wasn’t really close to who cared enough. It was the outpouring of love and support. It has truly been a blessing. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody to be blessed that way, but it’s made me a much stronger person.”
She said she often feels guilty because there are so many women who have a much more difficult time with treatment than she had.
“It’s like, ‘all right, Lord, why was I spared all that?’” Mobley said. “It makes you realize that something is expected of you, and I will always be grateful, but sometimes it makes it hard to share or talk with someone who is going through the worse scenario when I didn’t have to do that.”
She doesn’t dwell on it and said if the cancer recurs tomorrow, she’ll deal with it then.
“Most days I don’t even consider it, until I hear about somebody else who has breast cancer, and you flash forward what they’re going to go through,” she said. “When you buy a new car, and you think it’s kind of a rare one, and when you buy it you see them everywhere — that’s kind of what’s happened with the breast cancer situation. More and more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer, and more younger women.”
Mobley said she hopes that she can help other women see that breast cancer is not always what they would expect, and in some way to be a comfort to other women with the disease.