WEIRTON — Members of the Disciples Women of Weirton listened to breast cancer survivor Roberta Fedoush during their October meeting.
Her informational story explained how she is a six-year breast cancer survivor and chose to address the topic to correlate with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Fedoush emphasized the importance of getting tested, telling those in attendance to be sure to get their annual mammograms. She noted early detection is very important and if she had waited, she wouldn’t be here. “It’s always better to know there is or isn’t a problem than to pretend everything is OK,” she said.
Following her mammogram in 2017, she was diagnosed with a spreading and non-spreading type of breast cancer. She said her faith provided comfort and hope as she underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation over the next nine months.
“I knew that God was with me, whether I was cured or not,” she said. Nevertheless, Fedoush learned the hard way to ask for help. “My biopsy results came a week after my mammogram and I went to the hospital alone. I learned you shouldn’t go alone for your results.”
Help came from many directions. “My family, church family and my friends gave me physical and emotional support,” she continued. “They were willing to be whatever I needed, which a lot of times was a shoulder on which to cry. I had friends that told me over and over that I would be OK and gave me courage to be strong. The nurses were kind and patient, and other patients were very positive.”
Upon receiving her diagnosis, whenever she was frightened or not sleeping well, physicians at Weirton Medical Center and Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute developed a treatment plan with her.
Throughout her cancer treatments, she remained determined to continue her music leadership and responsibilities, never missed a Sunday of directing the church choir and singing solos and continued taking advanced music lessons.
“Listen to your doctors and get a second opinion if you want,” she said. “If you are diagnosed, ask people for help or support. Know that support meetings, help with food and supplies and transportation are available.”
“If you have a friend or know someone with cancer, pray for them,” Fedoush stated. “Send cards, call them, provide a meal, talk if they want to talk. But just be there if they don’t. Offer to take them to the doctor or to treatments, give them a prayer cross or a devotional book. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Let them cry on your shoulder. Let them know you care. Help them with your hands, feet and words to show God’s love.”
Fedoush underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy. She said when her hair began falling out, she became emotional during the trip to her salon. Her hairdresser kindly invited her to come back to have her head shaved. Eventually, she did return and had her head shaved, and so did her husband, Bob.
Fedoush advises friends and family of those with breast cancer, “Let them know that if they lose their hair or look tired and pale, they are still beautiful. Her journey back to good health brought many unexpected positive results.
“I have stronger ties to my friends,” she said. “I pray more than I did before. I am aware that God’s plans are more complex than we can comprehend from what we experience. We can only see shortsighted — He sees how everything will affect everything else.” Fedoush now adheres to a schedule of annual visits to her oncologist, followed six months later by her annual mammogram.
On behalf of the Disciples Women, President Janet Rymer presented Fedoush with a personalized album commemorating her recovery from breast cancer.