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Local woman’s battle with breast cancer recognized

  • Christa McArthur, left, holds her Diamond of Hope Award alongside Atlanta Braves pitcher David Carpenter. The award is given by the baseball team to multiple women who have battled breast cancer and were nominated by friends or family members. (Contributed photo)

Local woman’s battle with breast cancer recognized

by MichaelAndrews

When Christa McArthur was diagnosed with breast cancer almost eight years ago, the Ellijay womans time as an oncology (cancer treatment) nurse did not lessen the shock she felt.
It was January 2006. I was in complete shock, she said. I was 34 and our son was 7.  All I could think was AmI going to be able to see my son graduate from high school? 

Combatting cancer
McArthur underwent aggressive chemotherapy and multiple surgeries to combat the stage 3 breast cancer. 
I had about 13 surgeries in a 24-month period, she said.
Since McArthur is certified to mix doses of chemo treatment medication  something she does almost every day  it wasnt unusual for the registered nurse to also mix her own medication for chemo conducted at a former place of employment. We are trained to mix specific doses of the pharmacological products for chemo and the doses vary per patient, said McArthur, who is now employed by Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers.
McArthur completed chemo and radiation  in 2006, but has to take medication to keep her hormone levels in check.
I still take oral medication and will from now on, she said.
Cancer is no stranger to her family. I lost my dad, John Waddell, in 2007 and my mother, FranWaddell, is a two-time surviver of breast cancer, she said.

Survivors recognized
Christas bout with breast cancer recently inspired David McArthur to nominate his wife of 23 years for a humanitarian  award given by the Atlanta Braves in cooperation with Well Star Health Systems, Kroger and the AmericanCancer Society. 
Christa didnt know shed been nominated  to receive one of five Diamond of Hope Awards until shortly before David and her were about to leave for the Braves seventh annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day game.     
  He told me we had to be there early and that hed nominated me for the award. I didnt know until then, she said.
At the Braves Sept. 14 game against the SanDiegoPadres, more than 300 breast cancer survivors took to Turner Field to be recognized as pink and white balloons filled the air. McArthur and four other Diamond of Hope recipients attended an award ceremony, as well as a meet and greet with team pitcher David Carpenter (#48).
Im very honored. I think sometimes people tend to forget (about those who) have gone through something as traumatic as cancer, McArthur said. 
In an essay submitted for the contest,David McArthur said of his wife, She is the strongest person I have ever seen and the most caring person you would ever meet. She takes the same attitude to work every day and says she wants to help people get better, not bitter.
Shes very committed to her family, her job and her church.I know everything she does to help others, not just in the nursing field, but in general  helping people any way she can, said David.

A personal touch
McArthur said one positive thing thats resulted from her personal  experience with cancer is that she can use it to help frustrated or scared patients.
Ive been on both sides of the fence. I understand the nursing side of it and I also understand the patient side of it, she said. 
Sometimes that personal touch helps patients see past their initial fears or reluctance.
Shes able to tell people what shes been through and it helps calm them down. They know shes been through the fight and is alive and healthy, said David.
I try to make myself available to my patients at all times. They know I understand. Ive received the medicine Im giving them and I know how it feels, said McArthur.
Today, McArthurs son,Samuel, is a Gilmer High School sophomore fast on his way to graduation. 
Now in her 10th year of nursing, the proud mother of one said she knows there is never an all-clear when it comes to the possibility of cancer coming back. 
But thats not slowing her down.
  A lot of people think the 5-year mark, which is phenomenal, means no reoccurrence, she said.  But I know you can never say all-clear. Unfortunately, cancer has no regard for a persons age. I just tell people that God did not make me a statistic.
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