A Second Scare
It took Troutman about two weeks to recover from her surgery. Most uncomfortable, she said, was the drainage tube stitched under her arm for 10 days — an irritating reminder that she, indeed, had cancer. “I hated seeing that tube hanging out of me,” she said. “It was just too bizarre.”

The surgery was followed by seven-and-a-half weeks of Monday-through-Friday radiation treatments. The treatment made her weary, but she was quickly back in the mix of children’s car pools, teaching Bible study and Sunday school, going to PTA, serving on the board of the Dallas County Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and playing on a women’s soccer team.

“I really didn’t sit around in my nightgown for very long,” she said. “When something like this happens, you think about yourself every day. Before long, you can get very self-absorbed. I kept busy and keeping busy kept me sane. It made life feel normal.”

But life wouldn’t stay normal for long. As her radiation therapy was ending just in time for the holidays, her doctor found a lump where her lymph nodes had been. “I thought `This is it,'” she said. “I’m going to get lumps all over my body and die and who will do my Christmas cards?'”

As it turns out, she did her cards. A second surgery revealed that the lump was actually a blood clot, which was removed.

A Proactive Survivor
These days, Troutman said, life is good. “I live each day,” she said. “I don’t worry about the little things like whether the floor is swept. I make sure I’m at every baseball game and soccer game. We go on family trips and have lots of family time. These days, I concentrate on making memories.”

In fact, she and her husband and children are celebrating her fifth cancer-free year with a trip to Disney World. “I never thought breast cancer could happen to me,” Troutman said. “Most women feel that way. But it can happen. You’ve got to take charge of your health. You’ve got to do those monthly exams and learn what’s normal for you. Then make those mammogram appointments — and keep them. If you find something that’s not right, don’t say, `Oh I don’t want to bother my doctor with that.’ Bother him. That’s what they’re there for. Early detection is so very important.”

Troutman remains a proactive survivor. She is still active in the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and she and her family took part in the annual Dallas Race for the Cure. Troutman and her two older children walked in the event, and her husband and younger son handed out water to the racers.

“I stay involved for my daughter,” Troutman said. “She’s 15 now and we talk openly about what I went through and how she’ll have to be extra careful to take care of herself, do the exams and have regular mammograms.

“But I’m very optimistic,” she added. “I do think there will be a cure and my daughter will never have to experience breast cancer. I pray for that.”

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