Super Survivor’s Dad Reassures: Cancer Isn’t Death Sentence

Becca with her first grandchild, Nora

Becca with her first grandchild, Nora

No matter how old you grow, no matter how bad the news, Mom and Dad always know just what to say.

When Becca Moots heard her doctor tell her in 2007 that she had breast cancer, all she could think was that she had been handed a death sentence. She felt hopeless.

She dreaded breaking the news to her father, a physician, but he reassured her that cancer is not a death sentence. “That helped me a lot to be able to get through this,” Becca recalled.

Becca is one of three women who were randomly chosen as Super Survivors to be honored at this year’s Memorial’s Be Aware Women’s Fair. The sixth annual event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Super Survivors are women whose breast cancer journeys have been an inspiration to others. Their unique stories will be shared with fair-goers when the Super Survivors reveal their makeovers, courtesy of BJ Grand Salon and Spa, and their new outfits. To see our three Super Survivors when they were surprised with the news, check out this video.

Becca is a Taylorville resident and was 52 years old when her journey began. She had noticed a sore spot on her right breast in August 2007. The soreness didn’t initially alarm her. She had a mammogram every year since she was 40, the recommended age for annual breast exams. Cancer didn’t run in her family.

But the sore spot gradually became more painful. She set up an appointment with her OB/GYN to have it checked out. A sonogram revealed a suspicious spot, which her doctor said should be biopsied. Twelve days later, her doctor confirmed it was cancer.

About a month after she first noticed the sore spot, Becca went into the hospital for a lumpectomy and went home the next day. Nearly two weeks had passed when Becca learned the procedure didn’t remove all the cancer. She needed to return to the hospital for a radical mastectomy of her right breast, followed by chemo and radiation therapy.

She made it through about two-thirds of her chemo sessions when she became deathly sick. She and her husband, Craig, sought a second medical opinion and were advised that another chemo treatment could prove fatal. She ceased further treatments. After resting a month, she began radiation treatments, five days a week, for six weeks.

Today, Becca says she is doing well. She did develop lymphedema, which causes her right arm to swell, and congestive heart failure after the chemo, but “it’s better than the alternative,” she said.

In addition to her father’s encouraging words, Becca said her faith as well as hearing the stories of other survivors helped her through her treatment.

She and her husband have been married since June 1981 and have two grown children. They’re active at First United Methodist Church of Taylorville, where they have led a monthly cancer support group open to the community for the last seven years.

To other women facing their own breast cancer journeys, Becca says the most important thing to do is to remain positive. “My husband and I learned you have to be your own advocate through this,” she said. “You have to speak up and let your doctors know what you’re thinking.”

But the best part of making it through her journey was the chance to see her first grandchild, Nora, who will be 1 year old in October 2015.

“It was really wonderful to be here for her birth,” Becca said. “That was something that I didn’t think would ever happen for me.”