When Lee was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, she was optimistic from the beginning. Part of that was because she had faced the possibility of having breast cancer before.
Several months before her original diagnosis, a lump had been found, but it turned out to be benign.
“Waiting to get the results that first time we thought I had breast cancer, I can remember driving around the Loop crying,” Lee said. “I asked the Lord to help me get a grip. When I eventually was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, I thought ‘I can do this, we can fight this.’ I had confidence that everything would be fine.”
Knowing how it feels to be in their shoes, Lee said she doesn’t miss an opportunity to talk to a person she believes has cancer.
“I try to encourage them and let them know there is life after diagnosis,” Lee said. “Because of what I have been through, when I see someone I think has cancer, wearing a hat or bald, I approach them. There’s always something you can find to say to compliment them.”
For example, on a recent trip to her doctor’s office in Tyler, she tried to offer hope to a female patient who was upset that she couldn’t go on an upcoming trip she and her husband had planned to Peru.
“I encouraged her to not think about the trip, but to say ‘my trip is postponed.’ You need something to look forward to when you are ready,” Lee said. “When I got ready to leave that day, she called out to me. ‘Hey, Pinky, I wanted to say something. ‘My trip is not canceled. My trip is postponed.’ I’m hoping she is on her trip right now. If for no other reason, God gets the glory for what I am doing by touching the lives of others.”
At her last chemotherapy session in 2001, the doctor’s office staff told her they always have a party for the patient to celebrate.
“I dressed as a clown and brought a cake that year,” Lee said. “For my last chemo this time, I wore a pink wig and a pink boa. You have to laugh at yourself sometimes. Humor plays a big role in keeping positive.”
When her hair fell out from the cancer treatments, Lee asked her friend Helen Overton to buzz her head.
“We did that both times. I have fun with the different hats and scarves,” Lee said. “My hair is growing back nicely now, though it’s kind of curly.”