DELPHOS — Of all the ways one can battle cancer, the best way is prevention. If prevention isn’t possible, early detection is the next best thing.
As a survivor of breast cancer, Delphos resident Dorothy Kohorst is a strong advocate for regular check-ups and considers early detection the reason she’s cancer-free.
Dorothy Kohorst is shown with her two daughters, Jodi Watson and Melissa Knepper, at the 2012 Relay for Life in June. “They were two of my biggest supporters when I was going through treatment. One thing cancer did was make me cherish the time I spend with them and my husband, Carl, and our grandkids and family,” Kohorst said. “I used to be always looking ahead to the future. Now I live every day like it could be my last.”
“Six years ago, I went in for my regular mammogram; it was just routine, so no trouble was expected. I have a lot of history of cancer in my family but no history of breast cancer,” she said. “So when it turned out that I had breast cancer, it came as a complete shock. What they found was small but very aggressive. It was a blessing that they found it when they did.”
After her lumpectomy, Kohorst embarked on 38 treatments of radiation but didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy.
“It was actually kind of nice because I work as a nurse over at the Med Park at Lima Memorial Hospital and that’s where I had my mammogram,” she said. “So for my radiation treatments, I could just come to work, walk over to get my treatments and then come back. It was really nice to be able to stay here and not have to go away for treatment and I could keep working through it. I had a really great doctor; all of the doctors are good over there.”
Kohorst has been without breast cancer for six years but three years ago, the doctors found something else.
“I was in for a minor surgery and they accidentally found out that I had appendix cancer,” Kohorst said. “For that, I had to do six months of chemotheraphy. It’s been three years now and I’m cancer-free.”
With her own cancers having been caught early, Kohorst encourages anyone who will listen to get their mammograms and check-ups.
“My daughters are 40 and 37 years old, so I’m always after then to get their baseline mammograms because that’s when they found mine. If I hadn’t gone in, they wouldn’t have found it as early as they did. I’ve become a big advocate of that.”
Kohorst’s own battle with cancer has spurred her to become involved in the greater fight.
“This was my first year being involved with the Relay for Life. I helped out on committee and I had a lot of fun doing it. I just felt it was time for me to get out there,” she said. “Then two weeks ago, I was involved with the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K in Lima with some friends. I didn’t run but I walked it and it was much easier than I thought it would be. We ended up raising around $500, which was great.
“When you survive cancer, you want to give back,” Kohorst continued. “In our everyday practice at work, we see our patients get this same diagnosis. I think it helps them to see me and know I made it through. I know it helps me just knowing that in some small way, I can give them encouragement and comfort.”
Kohorst’s experience has made her realize what’s really important in life.
“Surviving cancer is really a good experience in the end because it makes you realize what’s valuable,” she added. “It’s brought me so much closer to my kids and my husband and my family. After something like that, you spend more time with the people you love. It makes you appreciate life so much more. I make the most of every day; I don’t waste a minute. I’m never bored now because I’m always doing things with my family.
“It also makes your faith stronger, which is good because faith is really such a big deal. My cancer may never return but it could come back tomorrow. Most cancer survivors live like that every day, so we just ‘love like there’s no tomorrow’ and love life.”