CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) — For more than 20 years, ABC15 viewers welcomed Allyson Floyd into their homes as she shared stories of hope and survival. While she may now be retired from the news industry, she recently sat down to share her own personal story of what it takes to survive breast cancer.
“I was a health reporter so I was always aware of the screenings that we need to get and what we need to do,” said Floyd. “But for me with breast cancer, it was particularly important, my mother is a breast cancer survivor, 33 years now.”
Because of that family history, Floyd has been getting mammograms since she was 35 years old. But as it did for so many, the pandemic put a crimp in her plans.
“I’ve made sure every single year that I had that mammogram and I had it on time,” she said. “And then COVID happened and I was actually about three to four months later than normal getting my mammogram.”
In a move she now credits with saving her life, she followed a suggestion from a coworker in the marketing department at Conway Medical Center and took advantage of one of the mobile mammography units.
“I literally went and knocked on the door and said do you have any availability today,” she said. “And they said, ‘sure, come on in and get your mammogram’. So, I had my regular screening mammogram and it wasn’t unusual for me to get called back. I have very dense breast tissue so I have had callbacks in the past. Somehow, this one felt a little different though.”
Her follow-up mammogram showed some calcifications that concerned her doctor. So she went back for a biopsy, a procedure she had never done.
“My original diagnosis was DCIS which is technically like a stage zero breast cancer where it is trapped in the milk duct,” she added. “So at that time, I was just going to have surgery for that.”
It turned out cancer had actually spread to her breast tissue, but thankfully, not to her lymph nodes.
“Mine is considered triple positive,” she stated. “I have ER-positive and PR-positive and HER2-positive. The ER and PR are the hormones — estrogen and progesterone. So my cancer reacts to those and also HER2-positive and it used to be that HER2 was one of the most difficult to treat and kind of had the worst outcome. But about 20 years ago, they came up with a drug — Herceptin.”
With a complete diagnosis and a treatment plan in place, Allyson prepared for the difficult road ahead.
“I did 12 weeks of chemo,” she stated. “Through the middle of July, I did chemo. I started radiation the first of August and went every single day. I did 20 rounds, finished at the end of August and now I am continuing the Herceptin infusions. That goes through May and I’m also getting ready to start my hormone blockers as well, four different types of treatments going on at the same time. Honestly, all of it is to save my life.”
While the medication was fighting cancer in her body, Allyson was left to battle the emotional war the disease was waging on her.
“Breast cancer or cancer, in general, is such an emotional time,” she said. “It changes everything about your life. You change emotionally. You change physically. The things I put my body through the last six months just to live, it changes everything about your life and you don’t realize it until it happens to you.”
“I cannot say enough about my family and my friends who literally pulled me through this,” she added. “You lose all control of your life when you get this diagnosis and anything you can do to grab a bit of that back you try to do, but you can’t control it.”
As she learned to let go of what she couldn’t control, her family and friends also helped her hold onto her sense of humor. Reminding her that sometimes laughter is the best medicine.
“All these crazy things happen,” she exclaimed. “I mean, I never knew I needed nose hair until all my nose hair fell out. That’s the kind of thing you just don’t realize.”
Something else she didn’t realize was the incredible strength she would find among other survivors.
“It’s a community you never wanted to be a part of but you are certainly thankful that it’s available to you,” she said. “Those other breast cancer survivors who are out there are just amazing.”
While this is not a chapter Floyd ever planned to write in her own story, she believes there is a profound purpose for her newly found platform and is thankful to be able to share it.
“It’s all about encouraging them to be active and take that step and don’t wait to get that mammogram,” she added. “If my story could help just one person go get that screening and catch it early, then it’s all worth it. What I am going through is all worth it.”
She believes that there is a reason for everything and this part of her story has a greater purpose.
“There is a reason that this happened and I truly believe that,” exclaims Floyd. “And I think that I have the opportunity to make someone else go for their screening and save their life because it happened to me.”
For more information about Conway Medical Center’s mammography initiative, click here.
To see where the mobile mammography center will be next, click here.
Breast Exams at Conway Medical Center
At Conway Medical Center, breast cancer screening exams are performed by a team of experts, including radiologists whose sole focus is interpreting the results of breast cancer imaging tests. We offer breast cancer screening services, including 3D mammography, at our Imaging Center in Conway and throughout Horry County on the CMC Mobile Mammography Center.
We want all women to benefit from the most sophisticated breast care available. That is why CMC is one of the first hospitals in the region to offer screening 3-D mammograms without a physician’s order at our imaging center or on our CMC Mobile Mammography Center. Financial assistance is also available through the CMC Foundation for those who qualify. Simply call 843-234-5474 to schedule your appointment today.