Renewed faith, family’s love bring peace to Rayborn in fight for life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 4, 1998

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / January 4, 1998

LAPLACE – This holiday season, Rebecca “Becky” Rayborn of LaPlace has a lot for which to be grateful, namely, that she’s alive to celebrate another Christmas and the new year with her family and friends.

In August 1998, Becky celebrated her 30th birthday and decided to make some important changes in her life. Walking regularly and eating betterwere initiatives she took to look and feel better, but what Becky didn’t know is these lifestyle changes would soon save her life.

After losing a few excess pounds Becky had been wanting to be rid of, a hard mass in her right breast that she had never noticed before was revealed.

“I first felt the lump in November, and I had just been to the doctor in July, right before my birthday,” Becky said. “I hadn’t noticed it before, andI immediately went to the doctor to get it checked out.”Becky had a mammogram performed and then a biopsy of the lump just days after she noticed the hard mass. She said that at that point she canremember anticipating the worst despite the numerous encouraging words from family and friends.

“Everybody kept saying, ‘It can’t be cancer. You’re too young,’ but I knewthat it was,” Becky said.

Not only did Becky have breast cancer, but the doctor said she had been living with it since about age 24. The cancer had progressed for years, anddoctors feared the cancer was invasive, or able to spread.

“When the doctor told me that it was cancer, I said, ‘Am I gonna die?'” Becky recalled, tears rolling over her cheeks. “He said I was too young andtoo beautiful to die, but I had no options. I had to have a mastectomy. Theyhad to remove my breast.”At age 30, Becky couldn’t believe she was a breast cancer victim. She satwith her doctor to review pictures of other women who had undergone the surgery she would soon endure, then she turned to her faith.

Becky admitted she had not been practicing her Catholic religion accordingly, but she was pulled to the church in her time of need.

“The Saturday before my surgery, I went to Father Benny at Ascension of Our Lord,” she said. “I kept praying for God to give me strength andcourage because I was a wreck. I cried constantly and couldn’t functionanymore.”Becky said her experience that Saturday in church changed her perspective on life and her battle against cancer.

“When Father Benny prayed on me, I can’t explain what I felt,” she said. “Itwas like a warm, soothing feeling passed through my body. Somehow. Ifound the strength I desperately needed, and I didn’t cry anymore.”Becky was also given anointing oil to rub on her breast, and she pressed on through her ordeal with the love and support of others and her newfound faith in the Lord.

Three tumors were removed with Becky’s right breast, and no further cancer treatment was needed. The cancer did not spread, andreconstructive surgery was initiated immediately. She is still undergoingphysical therapy, and the breast will not be fully reconstructed until March 1999.

“I feel like this happened for a reason,” Becky said. “When you go throughsomething like this, you have a better appreciation for life – it’s a gift.”Becky has returned to work and said she can’t wait to resume her walking.

She has been attending a support group at River Parishes Hospital for breast cancer victims and their families. And she’s considering taking amore active role in breast cancer awareness.

“I want to let other young women know that they can get breast cancer like I did,” she said. “It’s important to perform monthly self-breastexaminations because no one knows your body like you do. Be consistentand do it every month.

“If you have any concern, tell your physician,” she said. “Request amammogram no matter how young you are if you suspect you have breast cancer.”Becky said the list of family and friends who assisted through her ordeal are too many to name, “but I would like to thank all of them for their prayers and concern.”She also thanks the Rev. Benny Piovan and the congregation of Ascensionof Our Lord, Tina and Stanley Catoire for their financial assistance with Christmas gifts and Duane and Al Cazalot of Dance Unlimited.

Becky said her will to live came largely from her two daughters, Shelbi, 7, and Courtni, 5. She wanted to live to raise her daughters.”I got well through prayer, support and strength I never knew I had,” Becky said. “I am no longer a cancer patient, but a survivor.”

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