Sandy Young admits it was the worst Mother’s Day of her life.
It was the day she discovered she had breast cancer.
“I felt a lump and as soon as I found it, I knew what it was,” said Sandy. That discovery, on Mother’s Day 2016, began her battle with breast cancer.
Young had her first surgery July 1, 2016, a double mastectomy. Her second surgery was July 30 and she started chemo about two weeks later. Through all the trauma and emotional stress, she found much-needed comfort while working at her restaurant, Depot Bottom Country Store.
“I worked all the time and that’s what kept my sanity. It kept me from getting depressed,” said Sandy. “The radiation wasn’t bad at all. All it did was make me tired and I could push through that.”
Chemotherapy was a different story. Young says her last two chemo treatments affected her breathing, with her final chemo treatment sending her to the hospital for an overnight stay.
Young recovered from that bout and had breast reconstruction surgery last November. She says her friends try to add levity to the situation by joking that she got a boob job out of the deal, but that’s not what matters to her.
“The implants are very uncomfortable,” said Sandy. “There’s not a second of the day I’m not aware they are there. To me, the bright side of this is I’m alive. I’m healthy and my blood work is amazing.”
With her cancer fight hopefully done, Young is facing a new obstacle. She’s having to part with her beloved store because she says she can no longer afford private health insurance.
“I’ve heard rumors that we’re not doing well and that I’m burned out, but that’s not the case at all,” said Sandy. “I’m leaving because I’ve already paid $26,000 this year for health insurance and that’s entirely too much. I work hard and I want to keep some of that money for myself. I don’t want to pay it all to an insurance company.”
Young said her health insurance had been steadily increasing, even before she was diagnosed with cancer. This year’s enormous increase in January made it cost-prohibitive to continue working for herself, she said.
“This is not what I wanted to do,” said Sandy, who has owned Depot Bottom Country Store for 11 years. “I’m trying to convince myself I’m good with it, but it’s been hard. I love my customers and I will miss them more than you can imagine. This was eventually going to be my son’s store anyway. We just had to do it sooner than expected.”
Young has taken a job a Miniature Precision Components in Morrison, a job with full benefits. She will finish her first week there on Friday.
She has done factory work in the past, having spent 16 years at Findlay and two years at Carrier. “Factory work is not nearly as hard as what I do here,” she said, adding a 60-hour work week was the norm.
Her son, Travis, is taking over Depot Bottom Country Store. Sandy said effective Nov. 1, it will be his store.
“He understands the business so I know he’ll be able to do it,” said Sandy. “He makes great BBQ and a great chicken taco and eventually he will be adding some of those items to the menu here.”
Sandy said Travis has sold his BBQ truck and will focus his efforts full time at the store. She says she will continue to be part of the operation, but will be very much in the background.
American Cancer Society statistics indicate 1-in-8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. For all the women who receive that diagnosis in the future, Young has this advice.
“It’s not a death sentence,” said Sandy. “Round up a good support group and keep a positive attitude. A positive attitude helps your body heal more than anything. It's important to stay active. The weekends were my toughest time when I was home and not working and had time on my hands to think. You have to get out and be around people to lift you up. You can’t lie around in bed.”
She also recommends regular mammograms as a way to catch potential problems early.
“You think it’s not going to happen to you, but it can,” said Sandy.
"It's important to stay active. The weekends were my toughest time when I was home and not working and had time on my hands to think. You have to get out and be around people to lift you up. You can’t lie around in bed.”
– Sandy Young
According to BreastCancer.org:
• About 1 in 8 U.S. women, about 12%, will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
• In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
• About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
• About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
• For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
• Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2017, it's estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
• In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower.
• As of March 2017, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
• A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).