In July 2010, Tonya went in for her annual exam and mammogram, never expecting that shortly after, she’d be diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. “My mammogram showed swelling in my left lymph node,” she said. “But I wasn’t feeling sick or feeling bad.”
Later, the doctors tried to do a biopsy but there was too much blood flow, so she had a biopsy done surgically, after which she got her diagnosis.
“My journey was unique in its own way. I saw an oncologist in December and in January, I had chemo,” she said. While getting treatment, she received support from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – Nebraska Chapter as well as several other agencies. They provided information and resources for both her and her family to utilize, including books and other educational materials, support groups, financial assistance and even help with daily cleaning.
Now cancer-free, the 53-year-old, who is married with three adult children and one granddaughter, is now a huge advocate for preventative exams, urging her friends and family to make sure they stay on top of mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies and other tests, because her routine appointment is where they were able to catch her blood cancer.
She also continues to stay connected to the LLS in various capacities, because they are doing great work and are a great cause, she said. But Tonya also stays connected so she can be there for others and help them by sharing the path and journey she’s been on.
“Cancer brings so much fear into families. If cancer hasn’t knocked on your door, it has knocked on the door of your friends, neighbors or coworkers,” she said. “There’s so much power in numbers, and we continue to reach out into communities to make sure funding and awareness are more readily available for those affected. The more in numbers we are, the stronger we are. We’re going to get a cure for cancer, I can feel it in my heart.”