Rice in remission for 18 years after battling breast cancer

| October 11, 2019

Cheryl Rice stands with her horse Sue. She credits horses as to what helped her get through her ordeal with breast cancer in 2001.

COSHOCTON – Cheryl Rice of Coshocton loves her horses and she credits these beautiful creatures as to what helped her get through the most horrific year of her life.

In July of 2001, Rice received a call from her family physician who informed her that she had missed her appointment. Being free the moment her doctor called her, Rice went right in for her physical and that is when her life changed. Her doctor found two lumps on her right breast.

“I couldn’t believe it because breast cancer doesn’t run in my family,” said Rice. “I was kind of shocked.”

Rice saw a specialist a week after the two lumps were located and then had surgery in mid-August to have the lumps removed. One lump was benign and the other was cancerous. Only a week after her initial surgery, Rice had an additional surgery to remove all the lymph nodes under her right arm.

Six weeks after her surgery, Rice started chemo. Before chemo, she had a port implanted in her breast and during the operation, the doctor accidently cut her lung.

“When I laid down that night, I felt like there was a sword in my chest,” said Rice. “I didn’t want to go to the ER in the middle of the night, so we piled all the pillows in the house behind me so that I could sleep upright. I called the doctor the next day and he met me at the ER. They admitted me and had me blow up a whole package of balloons to reflate my lung. If that didn’t work, they would have had to put a chest tube in me. They had it there right beside of me, but they didn’t have to use it.”

It took a year to complete all chemo treatments and Rice also had six rounds of radiation after chemo was complete.

“Chemo was the worst,” said Rice. “Radiation was nothing compared to chemo. It made me really tired. I worked through chemo treatments. Looking back, I don’t know how I worked, but I did. I would have chemo on a Friday and they [her co-workers] knew that I wouldn’t be back the next week. I worked for two weeks, then would have a chemo treatment, and take that next week off. It took me about a week to recover from chemo each time.”

However, for Rice, the worst part in her treatment came about a week after she started chemo.

“I got home, I took some horse clippers and cut my hair, then I took a razor and buzzed my head,” said Rice. “And then I sat down on the couch and cried. You lose all of your hair, even your eyebrows and eyelashes. For some reason, that was the worst part for me.”

Chemo also made her lose her appetite. For a long time, Rice lived on soda crackers and candied orange slices because that was all she could eat. It was also in 2001 that Rice lost her cat to cancer on Thanksgiving and had to euthanize her dog who had cancer as well shortly before Christmas.

“What got me through it was my husband, the horses, my daughter, and my son and his family,” said Rice. “If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have gotten through it. I’d never been so tired and so sick, so it wasn’t a good year.”

Once Rice was cancer-free, her doctor recommended she receive mammograms once every six months. This is the first year that Rice is back to a normal schedule of having mammograms once a year.

“It’s very important that you get a mammogram, especially if you’ve got a history of cancer on one or both sides of your family,” said Rice. “I know they’re uncomfortable, but they’re worth it.”

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Category: People & Places

Beth Scott

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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