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Helena breast cancer survivor shares story, message of support network

Posted: 10:46 AM, Oct 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-26 12:46:35-04

HELENA — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

So many times we hear people have been diagnosed, they went through treatment, and are now cancer-free.

But what happens from the time a person is diagnosed to when they are deemed cancer-free?

MTN News spoke to one woman who said she couldn't have made it through without a support system.

Carmen Diehl was diagnosed with Stage III Invasive Memory Carcinoma in February 2018.

It would take over a year before all of her radiation and chemotherapy treatments were completed.

Carmen will be the first to tell you a strong support system is the only way she made it through.

"My kids have someone to reach out to, it was so neat to see them open up, especially the 11 year old," Diehl said.

Cancer doesn't just strike the patient hard, it also drastically takes a toll on the family members- especially children of the patients.

Carmen has five children; the youngest is just 11 years old.

Through Licensed Clinical Social Worker Tina Stern, a service provided by St. Peter's Hospital Cancer Treatment Center, Carmen and her family were able to meet and deeply discuss what she was going through.

"So for example, meeting with Carmen's family, she was able to bring four of her five children, and we were able to sit down and discuss the diagnosis and what the family can look for as far as symptoms maybe, but also how we can support the entire family," Stern said.

Carmen had four aggressive chemo treatments in an eight week period and several more radiation treatments after that.

During this time she developed relationships with her nurses, social workers, and volunteer staff at St. Peter's Hospital.

Carmen rang the bell in August of 2018 signifying she had completed her treatments.

Now Carmen has a message for other women who may be battling breast cancer, she says,

"The support system, everybody needs it!"

Click here for the calendar of activities for cancer survivors.