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Breast cancer survivor triumphs after five years

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

When Hampton resident, Dayna Henry, found out she had stage-four breast cancer, her initial response was, "How long is this going to take, because I really don't have time for this," she said with a laugh.

She added that she told her doctor she has too many things to do, and did not have time for breast cancer treatment. "He told me that attitude is what kept me centered, and focused and grounded." Henry was not going to allow the disease to take over her life. "The cancer didn't have me, I had the cancer," she said.

Henry, 45, is a busy professional, who owns Golden Age Senior Solutions, Inc., which includes three entities: a Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities program, an adult day center, and a social club. The center is located at 150-160 Carnegie Place, in Fayetteville.

Henry explained that a lump in her breast was found on Oct. 31, 2005, and she had surgery the next week to remove the tumor, which was identified as cancer. "The doctors removed 18 lymph nodes, and nine were saturated," she said.

Henry said that, usually, when the lymph nodes are saturated, it typically means there is a greater chance for the cancer to return, or may still be in your system.

"Breast cancer runs very deep in my family," she said. She added that her mother's sister was diagnosed with stage-four cancer at the age of 28.

"It was a battle for the insurance company to approve me to get a mammogram ... I made them give me a mammogram. I think I started at age 30."

She explained that most insurance companies will only allow you to have a mammogram screening, if you are 40 years old, or older.

Henry received chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and took various other medications. She explained that the worst part of breast cancer for her was the memory loss she experienced, after the chemotherapy treatment. She also struggled with the radiation treatments, which gave her third-degree burns. "I still have the scars from the burns," she said.

At the time of her intense treatment, Henry was working at CARE, a humanitarian organization. She said she struggled at work because of memory loss. "They were very supportive of me," she said. "I am in the executive department, in the auditing department, at the headquarters and was unable to do my job.

"It seemed as though I was going through the motions, because I couldn't remember things.

"During that same period of time, I met a wonderful man," Henry said. "I was at the height of my cancer .. .I did not have a hair on my body."

When she first told him she was worried about how he would take the news, his response was a simple question: "Did you ever think that God put me in your life to help you get through this?" After an amazing courtship, Henry married that man, Eldred Henry, in November 2006.

Henry has been in remission since 2005. "I am to the point, now, that I know it is a stage-four, and it may come back," she said. "But if it does, I will do what I have to do again."

She added that she has been really blessed with the support of her family, and that recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month is crucial. "When you see the pink ribbon on someone's car that says 'Survivor,' you feel a camaraderie with them, because you know they have been through breast cancer."