Penny Fisher lays in a hospital bed on Mother’s Day waiting for test results. Fisher said she has spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals since she was first diagnosed in January. Penny Fisher, Photo Provided.
Alumna changes her perspective on life after breast cancer diagnosis
Since she was young, Penny Fisher has known breast cancer — a disease her mother and grandmother had — could run in her genes.
Although she took a proactive stance toward her breast health, Fisher could not deny the results after finding an abnormal lump last January.
“When you actually hear the news ‘You have cancer,’ your life, I think, stops for anybody,” Fisher said. “But for me, I was sort of in shock because everybody told me up until that point that they didn’t think it was cancer. So when I heard the news, like anybody, I was emotional.”
Since her diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer, Fisher continues to share her experience with cancer to remind others they are not alone, bring awareness to her rare type and fundraise money.
During the first stages of coming to terms with her cancer, Fisher said she never let the disease deter her from focusing on the long-term picture of her life.
“I was like, ‘Okay. What’s our game plan?’” Fisher said. “‘I don’t want to die. I have two children, and they need their mom. So, what’s our attack plan? How are we going to fight this?’”
After discussing her options, Fisher leaned on her mother for advice even though her treatment plan was different.
“She asked me a lot of questions about what I had to go through, how radiation was and how I had therapy,” said Fisher’s mother, Nancy Moore, who was diagnosed in 2000. “She would call and say, ‘The doctors did this today,’ and it’s like, ‘Well, they didn’t do that for me’ because her [type of cancer] was so different.”
While undergoing radiation and other treatment, Fisher shared her experience for the first time during breast cancer awareness month with her article, “My lumps in the road: A column from Naples Daily News editor Penny Fisher.”
“Like anything else, your heart immediately goes out to them,” said Bill Barker, president of Naples Daily News. “You care about them. You think about the impact it’s going to have on them, not only from worry and concern for her but for her family as well.
“It was a big moment in terms of a real sense of feeling for Penny wanting to reach out and help, encourage her and do everything [we at Naples Daily News] possibly could. The interesting thing was, in a lot of ways, Penny showed more strength than some of us.”
In her article, Fisher touched on her past and present experience with cancer, while also reminding readers they are not alone in their own experiences.
Fisher received support from friends, family and her medical team through her Facebook page, Penny’s Pack, and the #PennyPower T-shirts her coworkers wore during a breast cancer walk, but she also wanted to let readers know she was supporting them.
“We’ve had outpouring support from everyone from her hometown, from college, from the people we’ve met down here, friends, coworkers,” said Fisher’s husband, Adam Fisher. “Because she is so likable, just a nice person, she’s made so many friends and that really helped a lot through this. They’ve really been here to support her.”
Fisher said she recently finished radiation and is now in a waiting period before she begins oral chemo.
With the help of one of her husband’s fraternity brothers, Fisher now has a family foundation set up to help her reach her goal of raising awareness and money for breast cancer.
Fisher said cancer has changed her perspective on life by helping her realize to take more time to breathe and appreciate life as it is.
“I joke with people at work all the time,” Fisher said. “Eat the chocolate cake, go on vacation, dance in the rain, make a memory because you never know. That doesn’t have to be a diagnosis for cancer; that can be anything.”
Contact Alyssa Cooper with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.