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Woman battling breast cancer wants to give hope to others

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Liza Yore is sharing her story to help inspire others

 

Photo courtesy of Liza Yore

Breast cancer survivor Liza Yore, center, during last year's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.

Local Liza Yore had young children and a three-month-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she hopes her story will help other survivors during this year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

For Liza, the problem started after giving birth to her youngest child.

"I had a lump in my breast, which the doctors thought was because I had just been pregnant, but it wasn't going away," she said.

In December 2010 she went into the hospital for more tests.

"I knew it was bad because when they say 'we'll take you back to a different room' after you've had your mammogram, you know something's not right," said Liza.

She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

"It was a little bit of whirlwind. Some of it because I had a brand-new baby, and three other kids under eight," she said. "I was particularly angry because I had a brand new baby. You know with cancer that a lot of people die from it so I was particularly scared ... mostly it was like, 'now, what do I do?' because I had a lot to live for."

She started chemotherapy and regularly went in for additional tests. She also chose to do a bilateral mastectomy.

"I only had to do the left side, but I opted to do both sides because it gave me the best odds of not having to deal with it again," she said.

Two years later though, in 2012, Liza was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, which had spread to the liver and the brain.

"They actually said at that time that I had a year, maybe a little more, left to live. They were not very optimistic because it was all throughout my liver," Liza said.

Fortunately, radiation treatments have been effective.

Liza said since the diagnosis her perspective on life has changed.

"I'm taking family vacations we might not have otherwise. I'm stage four, so while I'm fine now, I can't really bank on having a tomorrow," she said.

"I don't let the fear of cancer drive me, but I do take that perspective of 'maybe I'll take that vacation sooner,'" she said.

She tries to spend more quality time with friends and family now.

Liza's son Eamon Yore said that it was difficult at first but they have moved forward.

"We couldn't let it bring us down," he said.

The biggest challenge for Liza was learning how to be a cancer patient and a mother at the same time.

"What I really needed help with is how to be a mom," she said.

Liza said her children have been resilient and strong throughout, but navigating how to explain the situation was difficult.

"I can't promise them I'll always be there, because I don't want to lie and because cancer will likely be the reason I die, but what I tell them is that I'll be there as long as I can," she said.

Liza's son Corwin Yore said he remembers being scared, but not fully grasping the situation.

"It was really scary for me knowing my mom could die at any time," he said. "I remember when she said 'Mommy is very sick and she might go away,' and I think I didn't really know what that meant, but as I get older it's become more scary as I realize what all those surgeries meant," he said.

Liza said she was lucky that her husband was a doctor who worked in Everett and could help Liza with understanding the disease. She herself was a bio-medical engineer, so she was familiar with a lot of the language as well.

"I just want to say how incredibly impressed I am by this woman who has shown strength and resiliency and never lets anything get her down," said Liza's husband Liam Yore. "There was never a 'why me,' she just kept going."

Even after important surgeries, "a week later she was out and doing her normal things."

Daughter Teagan Yore said that Liza has always supported them. "Even when we're a little annoying she's always there to help us," said Teagan. "Even if she dies we know she has done so much for us already."

Teagan said that she likes taking part in cancer walks with her mother so that she can show her support as well.

Liza has participated in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for five years now and has become increasingly involved in the American Cancer Society and has become an advocate for patient navigators.

"I spoke up and said 'if I had to pick between these things, I think patient navigation is the most important' because everyone has their own story and their own needs but the one constant is that patient navigation has to be there to help you find what you need," she said.

She remembers the navigators helping her when she was first diagnosed.

"One of the things patient navigation did for me is they literally rocked my child, who needed to be rocked, so I could sit and focus on what the physicians were saying," she said.

Another reason she supports the American Cancer Society is because the research saved her life.

Her type of breast cancer "was pretty much a fatal diagnosis 10 years ago," she said.

Photo courtesy of Liza Yore

Breast cancer survivor Liza Yore, upper left, along with her family during a vacation.

"Because of research dollars they know about this [type of breast cancer] and now there are several different therapies," she said. "It's allowed me to see my baby go to kindergarten, which I wasn't sure I was going to," she said.

She plans to speak at this year's Snohomish County Night of Hope Gala.

Although she admits to not enjoying public speaking, Liza hopes that she can encourage anyone who is going through the same struggle.

"This is probably one of the scariest things you're going to hear in your lives and it's going to be hard and you're going to have your moments, but there are people that can help you and you can come out of it and live your life and go to football games, which I did today, or be the president of your kid's elementary PTSA, which I am," she said. "There are dark days, but you can get through it."

 

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