In March of 1988, Charlotte Curtis was preparing to get married.
A 32-year-old divorced mother of two small boys, Curtis was looking to begin a new chapter in her life.
Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and everything was put on hold. The wedding was canceled and she began preparing for the worst.
“Back then they didn’t give you a very good prognosis when you were diagnosed,” says Curtis. “I thought I just needed to focus on my kids and get through the treatments.”
She made it through chemotherapy, though, the cancer went into remission and she ended up marrying Bobby in 1990.
Life went on. Her kids grew up and five grandchildren were born.
Twenty-three years after her first diagnosis, in September of 2011, she was conducting a self examination and found a lump in her breast. Her mother, who had survived a 2003 bout with breast cancer and had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010, already had a appointment with a nurse practitioner. Curtis came along and got a biopsy. She feared the worst and her fears, unfortunately, were warranted.
“It’s scary when you find something,” Curtis says. “I’ve found things that were benign, but this time it was different. It was big and irregular and it hadn’t been there long.”
She had breast cancer again.
More chemo followed, but she beat it once more. Curtis, now 63, has been cancer-free since then.
While it has been difficult, Curtis says there is a silver lining that comes with battling cancer. Her previous relationships became stronger and she developed a lot of new ones.
“My mom, we’ve always been closer and now we’re a little bit closer,” she says. “We even did chemo at the same time.”
She’s served as the captain of the Relay for Life team from Elm Grove Methodist Church in Burlison several times. Curtis and her husband Bobby, who reside in Lakeland, have now been married 28 years.
“I would have missed a lot if I wouldn’t have been able to see them,” she says about her grandchildren. “I feel blessed.”
Curtis has made countless friends while spending so much time at various doctor offices.
“You get to know people all the time when you’re going through treatment,” she says. “Some of my best friends I’ve met there. It is hard, but there are so many blessings you can get. You do bond when you’re going through stuff that serious.”
Her main message to women fighting breast cancer is a simple one: keep fighting.
“I have a lot of faith, family and friends and they supported me and helped me a whole lot. I couldn’t have done everything without them … It doesn’t have to be a death sentence when people hear it. You just can’t give up. You have to keep fighting through it. There are blessings that come with everything you go through.”