"It took my breath away," cancer survivor describes diagnosis, recovery

Updated: Oct. 11, 2017 at 7:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you pay Cep Cantey a visit at her house, you'll find little inspirations in every corner.

"I know no matter what I'm facing, the faith will be with me," Cantey said. "I always say let your faith be bigger than your fear."

But her faith was tested 4 years ago when she got the phone call one in eight women will receive in their lifetime.

"She said I have your results and I said 'hit me with it." She said 'you have breast cancer.' And it went dark. I just don't remember anything else after those words. It took my breath away," Cantey said.

Cantey underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in August of 2013. If it hadn't been for early detection - her prognosis could've been much worse.

One of the best and highest tech tools for detecting breast cancer even in women with dense breast tissue is a 3D mammography machine.

Money raised during this year's Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Marathon, 5K + 10K event on Saturday, October 14, will fund a seventh 3D machine through the Palmetto Health Foundation.

The 2016 proceeds funded a 3D mobile mammography unit among other important educational materials.

"That really helps us look for those small tumors or areas of distortion that we may not see in dense breast women with regular 2d mammograms," local radiologist,  Dr. Mark Lovern said.

This innovative imaging gives radiologists like Dr. Lovern 120 different views in a single mammogram, which allows for the earliest detection possible, to heal more women like Cantey.

"You're still battling every day," Cantey said. "I'm four years in. I'm a four-year survivor but every day is still a battle after the fact."

Cantey has a family history of breast cancer – several of her relatives have been diagnosed with the disease. And as she lives the aftermath of her own diagnosis and recovery, she's watching one of the most important women in her life take on her same battle.

"My mother was diagnosed in July of this year. And so I know that she will survive, she's going through chemo. She will have to have surgery, she will have to have radiation," Cantey said. "But she can look at women like us - there's a survivor out there in my daughter, there's a survivor out there in my friend and I am going to make it."

Cantey urges all women to conduct self breast exams and take a proactive approach to their health. Cantey will also be at the annual Walk for Life in Columbia this weekend. She said come on out, say hello and give her a hug! If you'd like to register for the annual Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon, 10K + 5K, click here.  You can register online through October 11th.

For information about the Palmetto Health Breast Center, visit the Palmetto Health website.

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