Lydia Taylor has endured the emotional anguish that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. Twice.
The Hickory Creek Elementary librarian has managed to maintain a positive attitude through an ordeal that began Oct. 21 and has resulted in a double mastectomy and four chemotherapy treatments.
“What good does it do to be negative or mad?” said Taylor. “They say attitude makes a difference so I’ve joked about it and stayed upbeat.”
For Taylor, everything happened tremendously fast. On Oct. 21, she was diagnosed with Paget’s disease, a rare type of breast cancer, on her left side.
Less than a month later, she was diagnosed with another type of cancer, invasive mammary carcinoma, on her right side.
She had a double mastectomy Dec. 8.
“It all happened so fast, it was just shocking,” said Taylor, 57. “No one in my family has had cancer so it was something I didn’t expect. Coming to understand I had cancer was tough. It wasn’t the flu. It wasn’t an eye infection. It was cancer.”
A week after Taylor’s double mastectomy she tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 15 and suffered some of the characteristic symptoms such as loss of taste. She still maintained her jovial spirit.
“I said Lord, you’ve taken my breasts and now you’re going to take my taste too,” said Taylor.
She credits doctors at Pinnacle Dermatology and Saint Thomas River Park Hospital for catching her cancers early. As a result, she only had to undergo four chemo treatments, one each month in January, February, March and April. She took her fourth and final treatment last week.
“I may have had my last treatment and got to ring the bell, but I don’t feel like I can say I’m a survivor yet,” said Taylor. “You don’t know what can happen. I’m not going to toot my horn and have it blow up in my face.”
Taylor says her two biggest fears right now are not being around for her grandson, Rayder Crim, and for the cancer to return.
“I thought when I looked down and didn’t see my breasts that would get me, but it didn’t,” said Taylor. “When I lost my hair, I thought that would get me, but it didn’t. Really what gets me is the thought of leaving my grandbaby and not being here for Rayder.”
Her friends at Hickory Creek Elementary have served as a tremendous support system, Taylor said. They have been eager to help in any way possible.
“If you know someone who is sick, drop them a note, even if you haven’t talked to them in awhile,” said Taylor. “It really means a lot and it helps a lot. I don’t have a large family, but my friends here at school have been unbelievable.”
Taylor wants to personally thank the staff at Tennessee Oncology which is located here at Saint Thomas River Park, Dr. Brad Brock, and Pinnacle Dermatology.
“I told all three offices to remember that what they do does make a difference,” said Taylor. “It made a difference to me and it saved my life.”
She also wants to thank Rayder's mom, Marli, and her co-workers at Avalon.