Inez Snyder has been getting mammograms since she was 30 years old after a biopsy showed she had some fibrotic tissue in her left breast. She said her paternal grandmother and a couple of her great-aunts had breast cancer.
After a routine mammogram at 46, her doctor spotted another mass in her left breast.
She went back for a repeat mammogram, and then an ultrasound with a biopsy. She said she already knew in her mind that it was breast cancer.
“Being a nurse, I could tell by the radiologist’s body language and the way he was looking at the ultrasound, that it was positive,” she said.
Inez got the call while at her eye doctor’s office that confirmed her suspicions.
She was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma) and LCIS (a marker that states you’re at risk of developing breast cancer).
“I didn’t tell a lot of people,” she said. “I was kind of angry (for getting cancer).”
She ended up having a lumpectomy in October 2019 to remove that area, and underwent 30 rounds of radiation, finishing on Christmas Eve.
Then Inez and her husband told her kids. She said they were too young to understand the severity of the situation, and never really saw her as “sick.”
She started Tamoxifen (a hormone therapy drug) in January which threw her into early menopause. She will be on that until 2025.
Her support network was her family, her two best friends and the Gather for Hope support group through Aurora.
Inez also met a woman while serving on the board of directors of Women Who Care in Oshkosh, who is also a breast cancer survivor.
“She brought all these women to me who gave me books (about breast cancer), and they were so compassionate,” said Inez.
Having breast cancer during the pandemic definitely affected Inez’s lifestyle.
“It couldn’t have happened at a better time because I made significant lifestyle changes,” she said, stating that she stopped consuming anything that increases estrogen in her body (which her cancer was feeding off of.
The pandemic gave her more time to educate herself about making healthier choices. Inez said she stopped drinking alcohol and eating meat. She also lost 50 pounds because of this.
She said the hardest part about her breast cancer experience, was being afraid it was going to come back.
“The acceptance of having cancer was very difficult,” she said. “And feeling like I’m marked, but I’ve overcome that.
Through this journey, she learned she’s more of an introvert than she thought.
“I was always around a lot of people, but I realized I really enjoy my quiet, downtime,” she said.
To anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, Inez says finding support is key.
“Educate yourself and be easy on yourself too,” said Inez, who went on to say that sometimes you can feel guilty, like getting cancer is a result of something you did in the past.
Her goals for the future are to continue to eat healthy and have a prosperous retirement with her husband. She said they like to stay active doing things like cross country skiing and traveling. She also has become a big reader and is in a book club.
Inez and Dale, her husband of 14 years, live in Oshkosh and have three kids together. She was a cardiology nurse for 20 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
She enjoys yoga, reading, going for walks and traveling. Next year they are heading to Hawaii for a spring break family vacation.
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