Clanton woman beats breast cancer

Published 3:27 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vickey Grooms teaches math to her students at Clanton Middle School.

Vickey Grooms of Clanton doesn’t take her days for granted anymore. Not after she battled breast cancer 12 years ago.

“Don’t put off doing things that you would like to do with your family or friends,” she said. “We’re never guaranteed a tomorrow.”

Grooms was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in the summer of 1999.

The diagnosis was not completely unexpected, she said, because she had felt a lump in one of her breasts before she went to the doctor for her regular exam.

“It was a routine appointment,” Grooms said of the day the cancer was detected. “I had felt the knot, but I put it in the back of my mind.”

Her doctor said he felt the lump, too. As fate would have it, Grooms was due for a mammogram anyway.

The results of the mammogram spurred an ultrasound, and a biopsy followed.

The biopsy brought the bad news: the lump in her left breast was malignant, and a lump in her right breast was precancerous.

Grooms’ doctor gave her the option to wait for three months to monitor the growth of the lumps before undergoing treatment, but she declined.

“I was very fortunate,” Grooms said of the early detection. “My husband and I decided the best thing for me to do was have a bilateral mastectomy, followed by six months of chemo.”

Grooms had also watched a close friend go through breast cancer several years before her diagnosis.

“After talking to my friend, we decided that (waiting) wasn’t an option,” she said. “(She) suggested several doctors. I just listened to her and did what she told me to do.”

Grooms’ doctors treated her cancer aggressively, and as a result, she joined the ranks of pink ribbon-wearing survivors everywhere.

She said she had a great support system comprised of her husband, children, grandchildren, coworkers and prayer warriors at her church.

“I couldn’t have made it without them,” Grooms said. “I’ve learned my family and friends and grandchildren are not going to remember if my house is clean. They’re just going to remember the fun things we do together.”

Grooms’ husband, Jerry, was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer, in April of this year.

Coincidentally, the couple had served as volunteers on Chilton County’s Relay For Life committee before their individual diagnoses.

Vickey and Jerry are now cancer-free and participate in Relay as cancer survivors, while trying to help others cope with cancer.

“I can actually say, ‘I know what you’re going through,’” she said. “There is a light at the end of that dark tunnel.”