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Paulette Burchinal is surrounded by family during one of her hospital stays during her treatment for breast cancer after her diagnosis in November of 2019. She credited family, friends, good health-care providers and faith in God for getting her through her cancer treatment.

BLOSSOM – “This Breast Cancer Awareness month has been emotional for me as I finally have been cancer-free long enough just to sit back and reflect on everything I’ve been through and how it has strengthened me,” said breast cancer survivor Paulette Burchinal.

Burchinal was first diagnosed in November of 2019 after she found a lump in the left side of her left breast.

“I don’t usually do self-exams, but that day it was like God was guiding me to find it.” Soon thereafter she went to meet a doctor she describes as “amazing,” Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy at The Texas Oncology-Baylor location in Dallas.

“Texas Oncology was amazing in catching the cancer and saving my life before it was too late,” Burchinal said. “But the scary part was that it didn’t even show up on the mammogram, it showed up only after the ultrasound. So, I found out the next week that I had triple negative breast cancer, but it was not caused by hormones or genetics in any way. There was really no explanation for it at all. But thank God they caught it in time and although it was an aggressive form of cancer, it did not metastasize enough to reach my lungs which is where it usually goes when it has gone undetected for too long.”

Burchinal had a bilateral mastectomy in January of 2020, and radiation and chemo treatments after that for doctors to feel less skeptical about it coming back.

“Losing all my hair was really hard,” said Burchinal, “as well as having blisters all over my chest and arm from the radiation. I cannot even imagine how hard it must be for women who have worse cancer than I did.”

Burchinal credited her faith in God in guiding her through the ordeal.

“God has blessed me immensely with support from family and friends and has given me the gift of healing. This was the most challenging and traumatic experience of my life and my immune system was weakened during Covid due to all the radiation, so I was stuck in the house every day for months on end. But some days my husband would take me out for drives in the country to ease my suffering and when you have had a scare like this, that you could have lost your life, you really start to see how beautiful the world is after that. On those drives the trees honestly were more vivid than ever before.

“The advice I have for women who are going through this or think they might have breast cancer is: Get regular mammograms and if you do find or suspect you have a lump don’t delay consulting with your doctor. Prompt treatment is the best way to survive. Also, lean on God and a good support system for encouragement and strength as you battle for your life,” Burchinal said.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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