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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

A Fighter's Story

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rhonda Treash standing next to a cutout of her favorite Indianapolis Colt, former quarterback Peyton Manning, prior to her diagnosis of breast cancer.
Rhonda Treash can thank a family pet for changing her life.

In 2011, only eight months after having her annual mammogram, Rhonda noticed one of her cats was getting cozier with her.

The cat, a Siamese, had never done that before.

"(The Siamese cat) has never been a lap cat," Rhonda said. "All of the sudden, she started sitting on my lap."

Rhonda remembered something people told her when she was younger. Animals can sense sickness.

She immediately started checking her body and discovered a lump on one of her breasts.

"I had only had a mammogram eight months before," she said. "But I felt around and felt a knot."

She went to the doctor and was given the worst news of her life: She had breast cancer.

And it had already reached Stage 2.

"My doctor said cancer moves fast," Rhonda said. "It might not have been there at the time (of the mammogram)."

Rhonda grew up in Clay County. She now lives in Sullivan County, but she still has family in Brazil.

One of her daughters still lives in Clay County, as do her two sons. She also has a daughter who lives in West Terre Haute and another in Indianapolis.

In addition, she has two brothers and three sisters who live in Clay County and another sister who lives in Parke County. Breast cancer does not run in her family. And she, she instantly felt fear.

Rhonda was diagnosed in June 2011.

"I was scared," she said. "And you always ask yourself questions like, 'Why me?' I cried all the time."

Her physicians offered her three options. One, they said the breast could be removed. Or she could go through aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The third option was to do all three.

She chose the chemotherapy and radiation route and has gone through five months of chemotherapy and countless days of radiation.

For now, she said she is done with the treatment. However, she still has a port inside her body that is flushed out regularly.

"I talked to my doctor one week ago, and he said everything looked pretty good so far," Rhonda said.

While Rhonda has had a strong support group coming from family members, she said she feels like she should look into other forms of support.

"It really helps to talk to other people about it," she said. "And I've talked to lots and lots of people."

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, Rhonda said her life has changed in many ways.

"I look forward to spending time with my family," she said. "And I try to make it a point to see my kids every weekend.

"I feel blessed. I feel like when you go through that, it makes you a stronger person and you appreciate things in life. You appreciate the most important things in life: Your family and friends. It feels like I have beaten it. It makes you stronger."

Rhonda will also be forever linked to the Siamese cat, an animal she has had for four years.

Rhonda Treash after her diagnosis of breast cancer.
"If it weren't for the cat, I would have never been checked," she said.

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I was diganosed with breast cancer in January of 201l, had surgery in February and went through chemo and radiation, ending in September. I guess everyone deals with it differently. I never went to any groups and only discussed it with family and friends. I am almost one year cancer free but cancer cautious. I live in Clay County and was told by my Oncologist that Clay County has one of the highest rates of cancer in the state. I also still have my chemo port and was told that I will have for 3 to 5 years, as a precaution. Good luck Rhonda and congrats on a battle well fought and won.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Wed, May 9, 2012, at 9:09 AM

Interesting tidbit about Clay County having one of the highest rates of cancer in the state. Do you think it has to do with the fact that people live to a very old age in Clay County and older people tend to live long enough to experience cancer more so than if they passed at an earlier age like in other counties? Did your doctor refer to a particular age group? It would be shocking if the high rate of cancer was attributed to the younger crowd. Thanks for sharing that information.

-- Posted by Claycountian on Wed, May 9, 2012, at 5:03 PM

Claycountian: I am only 53, my next door neighbor died last year of lung cancer at 64 and the neighbor next to him has leukemia (cancer of the blood) and is younger than me. My doctor did not have a reason, but speculated it could be from the coal mining in clay county over the years. I think this would be a very interesting study for a college thesis. Actually I wish someone, anyone would do a study because I fear for my family's health. I also didnt mentiont that in 3 years there have been 3 dogs that have died from tumors.

-- Posted by lifehasitsmoments on Wed, May 9, 2012, at 7:11 PM

53 and 64 are young...too young to battle with such a serious illness. It may very well be the coal as well as agricultural chemicals used in the area. Could also be ground pollution from some of the old plants, such as the brick factories. I wonder what the old pipes are made of that carries city water. It's funny you mention the tumors in dogs. I have had one dog who has undergone two surgeries for tumor removal and will have to undergo a third soon. Another one of my dogs is growing one as well, smaller, slower growing and in a different location, but still a tumor. For the sake of the residents' health, I agree that a study could be very beneficial to the county.

-- Posted by Claycountian on Wed, May 9, 2012, at 11:23 PM

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