• September 2, 2014

Woman uses humor, past experiences to cope with breast cancer

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Posted: Monday, October 26, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:16 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Rebecca Hertz

The Killeen Daily Herald

Margo Coster of Killeen appreciates a positive attitude and the healing properties of humor. Coster was diagnosed in 2003 with a rare form of breast cancer. However, after navigating through difficult marital problems, her reaction to the diagnosis was not what her doctor expected.

She told the doctor, "You don't understand, I've already been to hell and I crawled out of that deep black hole and I am never going back there. So bring it on; anything you can give me I can handle."

Diagnosis

Coster said when you first hear the word cancer, everything stops. The first thought is death. It was as if she was wearing blinders. The doctor was talking but her mind had stopped.

It all began when she got home from working at a blood drive and discovered she was bleeding from the nipple and there was dried blood in her bra. She immediately went to the Internet and started looking up Web sites for breast cancer. The next morning she made a doctor's appointment.

Initially they told her she may have been bitten by an insect and the following day she had a mammogram and ultrasound that showed nothing unusual. She was referred to a specialist who suggested that most likely there was nothing to be concerned about. After more testing and a biopsy, she got the news. News that she said she already felt intuitively. It was breast cancer.

Reaction

Her first instinct was that she didn't want to die.

She did cry.

She said you have to get that emotion out. She accepted the situation and focused on helping friends, family and co-workers deal with the diagnosis by remaining upbeat and positive.

She didn't waiver in her confidence that everything was going to be fine and that she could handle whatever she needed to do.

"I have three beautiful children and I don't want to die. It's like I'm fighting this. I am a woman, I can do anything – hey, bring it on," she said. "I know she (the doctor) thought this woman was nuts."

Priorities

Coster said her breasts are not her personality, "it isn't who I am." Her first priority was being there for her kids and showing her daughters strength. Her daughter asked why this was happening to her mother when she does so much to help others.

"Bad things happen to good people too," Coster said. "Maybe it is because I am here to help other people with this."

Faced with the decision of having a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, she opted for a double mastectomy because she said the risk that the cancer would come back was too high.

She had the surgery a month later and didn't require chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

She said her sister who came from Arizona to stay with her was an amazing care taker, keeping her laughing and grounded through the entire ordeal. Friends and family were supportive bringing flowers, cards and meals every night. She was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness.

"It is not the end of your life. I want to say hey, it's OK, it doesn't make you less of a woman," she said. "I feel very comfortable with it."

For the year prior to her reconstruction, she didn't wear a prosthesis, although she admits that not every woman would feel comfortable doing that.

"I just wore a T-shirt and I was flat and it didn't bother me at all," she said.

Because of her family history of ovarian cancer, her doctor recommended that she have a preventive hysterectomy in 2005. Other issues and complications required Coster to have additional surgeries.

Giving back

She now works with the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program to provide information and support to others affected by breast cancer.

"Everybody wonders why me – well why not me? We are no different than anyone else," she said. "I think sometimes we are given something so that we can be there for another woman or man even."

Contact Rebecca Hertz at rhertz@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7469.

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