It was days before traveling across the world for a mission trip and 30th anniversary trip with her spouse that Wendy Lybarger, 57, of Dayton, Ohio, was told she needed follow-up testing after a routine mammogram, which resulted in a diagnosis of breast cancer.
As a pastor and assistant to the superintendent of the United Methodist Church Miami Valley District, Wendy’s profession has her regularly traveling as a mentor and consultant to other United Methodist pastors, working with 143 churches in eight counties across western Ohio.
So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she would need aggressive chemotherapy and then surgery, it gave her pause. How would she be able to do this and still live her life? She decided to get a second opinion at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) before making her final decision about treatment.
After additional tests to analyze the specific characteristics of her cancer, the OSUCCC – James oncology team concluded that Wendy’s original diagnosis was inaccurate. The final diagnosis – stage 1, hormone receptor positive, node-negative breast cancer – could be treated effectively with surgery and partial breast radiation, the latter of which could be done over the course of five consecutive days versus the traditional four to six weeks of treatment involved in whole breast radiation. Chemotherapy was unnecessary.
“I felt good about the science-backed decision for my care. I asked questions and did the research to land on a less invasive, more convenient treatment plan that didn't compromise my long-term risk for recurrence,” says Wendy, who completed treatment in time to host all of her children and grandchildren for Christmas in 2019. Now she is back to enjoying hockey games with her husband, cooking, traveling between churches and spending time with her grandchildren. She looks forward to gardening in the spring.
She wants others to know it is important to be your own advocate: “Don’t be afraid to ask the questions so that – when the decisions are made – you have confidence in what is happening and that you made the best decision for you. This allowed me to thrive and, with the support of my faith community, personally allowed me to go into the treatment with a calm and peace.”