In 2004, Dana Mattingly was playing racquet ball with her daughter, when the ball hit her on the side of her breast. The injury bothered her for a while. She started to suspect there was something else going on. Mattingly went to get it checked out, and her physician removed a mass from her breast in January 2005.
Lab results revealed the mass to be a malignant tumor.
Mattingly discovered she had breast cancer a month before she celebrated her 33rd birthday.
She endured a second surgery, which included the removal of part of a lymph node. Chemotherapy and six and a half weeks of radiation therapy followed.
Six years and eight months have passed since physicians have found any sign of cancer in Mattingly.
The primary emotion Mattingly felt throughout this process and afterward was fear. When she was sick, she was afraid she would never see her daughters graduate from high school. She feared she would never get to help pick out a wedding dress or even a prom dress for her children.
Now, one of her daughters is engaged to be married in May.
After her cancer experience, Mattingly feared her children would someday be affected by the illness. What sustained her were her faith in God and support from her family.
Mattingly said she wouldn't be able to get through life without these two things, in addition to the support from some close friends.
“I have the greatest family and friends in the world,” she said. That's the advice she gives to women who are going through what she did six years ago: “Surround yourself with positive, loving and caring people.”
Now, she joins some of those family members and friends on a Race for the Cure team every year, in Mattingly's honor and in honor of a friend who died of breast cancer.
Mattingly believes the illness gave her new perspective on what's important and what's not.
“I wouldn't want to go through it again, but I wouldn't trade it.”