They Have Survived 14

Meet four local women who have 
stared-down breast cancer and won.

By now you probably know that breast cancer will affect one out of every eight women. With a reality like that, it’s likely that you know a survivor or someone currently fighting the disease. It’s at this time of year that our attention turns to this battle. And as we work toward finding a cure, it’s a great time to meet some women in our community who are not only fighting the good fight, but doing so with grace, beauty and style that would make anyone proud.

Recently we s stopped by Ecco Salon in downtown Franklin where we met four such women who shared their stories. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.

DONNA K. DOMEN

Sales Representative | Franklin

“I was diagnosed in 2016 and it came as a complete surprise. I found a lump and I honestly didn’t think it was cancer because we don’t have cancer in my family. I was scared and worried about my future, my kids, my husband, my mom and dad. I found an inner strength and I prayed a lot. I confronted the disease with faith and humor. My experience has provided me with a lot of compassion for cancer patients and people who are sick. And it has also provided me with a “look on the bright side of life” mentality. I love to cook and I have a new found enjoyment for looking at the sky and enjoying the weather.”

CONNIE GOWEN

Retired | Nashville

“I was diagnosed in February of this year after an annual mammogram. My mother had breast cancer when she was 63 so I was not surprised. I had no symptoms but once told that there was a suspicious area, I could feel it. Later I had an ultrasound and biopsy. The radiologist told me that my cyst was small and could likely be taken care of easily. That was such a relief, hearing those words! Testing of that tissue did not reveal the need for chemo or radiation. I have always tried to take a proactive approach to my health, but had suffered greatly since my husband’s death from cancer in 2015. However, that experience let me know that I had a strong support network of family and friends. I found a therapist to help me with my adult-onset scoliosis, plus I worked with a trainer who suggested eating a mostly plant-based diet. By the spring of this year, my “team” expanded to include a yoga instructor and a Pilates teacher who have guided me to strengthen my body and spirit. I felt confident that I was in as good a place inwardly and physically as I had ever been.”

ELLEN McELROY

Accountant and Stay-At-Home Mom | Nashville

“I had a house full of out-of-town guests when I was diagnosed in 2014. Out of necessity, my husband and I put the entire thing out of our minds for those first few days. Even though the cancer was very small and in its early stages, there was a lot of fear as both my mother and sister died from breast cancer. I never considered myself a cancer patient. What I went through was so much easier than what so many others face that I was almost embarrassed to be included in the same group. I approached the surgery and subsequent treatments as tasks I had to do. The experience gave me a much deeper understanding of what my mother went through. I understood how she felt. My experience was so minor compared to hers. Of course, that is all due to the early detection and the advancements that have been made in the past 30 years. If I hadn’t had that MRI in April, the cancer would have had a whole year to grow before my next mammogram. I am lucky that I am monitored so closely. When caught early, breast cancer can be dealt with rather efficiently.”

SUZY ROHOLT

Realtor, Keller Williams | Franklin

“Last year on my birthday I noticed a large “dent” in my left breast. I did a self-exam and discovered an alarmingly large lump. I called my GP who saw me first thing Monday morning. I had a mammogram and ultra sound that very same afternoon. The next few days were a flurry of oncologist visits and tests. Then I got the call: “You have Cancer.” I worried about how I would be able to work and support my family. I lived on faith, the strength of which I had never known before. I underwent a mastectomy in November, followed by eight weeks of radiation therapy. Love and support came in unexpected kindnesses like meals, phone calls and rides to appointments. I focused daily on positive thinking and all the things I have yet to accomplish in my life. With the support of my friends and family, 2016 became my best year in real estate. It is true that we do not know how strong we are until we walk through the fire. But I did not do it alone. I drew on the strength of others to hold me up when I needed it most.”