Breast Cancer survivor says it is a miracle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Courtney Guidry began our conversation wanting to talk about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which was in October.

In the end, she ended up talking about a miracle.

Sitting in the offices of L’Observateur, the young LaPlace mother, now 32, came in to discuss breast cancer awareness, hoping to encourage women to be more aware of self-checks, as well as mammograms, and all the things you should do to stay vigilant.

That seemed natural for a woman who had been through excruciating trials in her short years of married life.

Coming out of college as an occupational therapist, she had barely worked two years after being married in 1998, but then became a stay-at-home mom when her son was born. Finding herself pregnant again in 2001, she was 16 weeks along with what would be her first little girl when life was thrown upside down for her.

“I had a lump in 1995 in my breast, and they had taken it out, but then an area started growing, which they originally thought was from the scar tissue from the first biopsy. But when they went in, I could hear the doctor say ‘is that what they think it is?’ That’s when I knew I had cancer,” she said.

Courtney and her husband were both strong

Catholics, and from the beginning, leaned on their faith to get them through what would turn into a trying five years.

Within one week she had a mastectomy on her left breast, then had to undergo chemotherapy while still pregnant with her daughter-a scary prospect in itself.

Even after a healthy baby girl was born, she had her right breast removed in Sept., ’02 simply as a precautionary measure. From then she had much prayer from her church and was hoping for things to get better, but the cancer returned in March, ’05, now being judged a Stage 4 cancer, which is the most severe it can be

Doctors said the cancer had now gone into her bones, one of the worst situations for anyone facing cancer. Clearly, the future looked grim for Courtney, her husband and two young children.

But at what looked like the darkest hour, with the bleakest prognosis facing them, Courtney said it was the faith of her family that led to what she believes was a miracle.

“We have always prayed to 15 different Saints for healing, asking them to intercede to God on our behalf,” she said. “And we had been getting told a lot about Father Xavier Seelos, who is a priest in the church who is being considered for Sainthood. There are a number of recorded miracles that are attributed to him.”

In August of 2005, Courtney and her husband headed to New Orleans for a much-delayed anniversary weekend. They were driving around in the streets of downtown New Orleans, trying to find the D-Day Museum, when they suddenly saw a sign that said, “Father Seelos Center, Turn Here.”

“We saw that and just knew we were being led somewhere,” she said. “So we went in the church, where they have people in there all day to pray with you. We prayed for God to heal me.”

The next Monday, Courtney was due for a PET scan, but even as the doctors surely expected to once again see the severity of the cancer which had been all through her body just a week before, there was an amazing result.

“The doctor came in and just said, ‘you have very good news.’ He said the scan was clear, completely clear, and the cancer was completely gone,” Courtney related.

That was two years ago, and Courtney Guidry is still completely healed from her cancer. Today she said she just wants to give praise to God for what happened to her, and let others know there is always hope in God, even when you go through a difficult time as she did.

When the first cancer was diagnosed for Courtney in 2001, she admits it was earth shattering to a woman who, like most, just didn’t expect to face death so early.

“I was devastated when I got the news, but especially so since I was pregnant with my daughter,” she said. “I didn’t know if I would be alive to see the kids grow up. The reality of death really faced me, and it was very difficult.”

But she said her husband was a strength for her throughout all of the challenges they faced.

“He is from a family of 10 kids, and it’s a strong family,” she said. “He immediately kept telling me that our faith would get us through it, and it really did. He always told me, ‘this is just a bump in the road,’ and he never doubted that God would heal me. For that matter, through so much of this I really experienced the body of Christ with so much prayer for me. I could just feel it.”

The first mastectomy was within a week, and a five centimeter mass was taken out. However that wasn’t the only problem. Doctors found cancer in the lymph nodes, so she was faced with the prospect of doing chemo, even through she was pregnant.

“Some doctors just suggested I have an abortion, and told me it was the only way I could live,” she said. “But we found one doctor who had experience with pregnant women with cancer, and he said some drugs were OK to use. So I went forward with it, and my little girl was born perfect as can be.”

She followed with four months of chemo after the baby was born, but still had her right breast removed in September of 2002 as a precautionary measure.

“I was young, but I knew I needed to do it. But then I had reconstructive surgery and you can’t believe what they can do. They used some chunks of flesh from my rear end,” she laughed. “I wish they could have gotten a little more.”

Getting checked every three to four months, things seemed fine for over two years until doctors started seeing some questionable blood results. By March of ’05, they confirmed the cancer was back worse than ever, all through her body. She had a hysterectomy in May of 2005, but now the cancer was in her bones and the prognosis was not good.

“But that’s when God comes through, at what looks like the worse time,” Courtney said. “It really was a miracle that we just ended up in New Orleans by Father Seelos’ Center, and because of our faith, look what has happened.”

Now Courtney volunteers at the Seelos Center, and checks on her cancer continue to come up negative.

“I just want people to know that God is good, and there is always hope in God,” she said. “I didn’t just get a physical cure, it was a spiritual healing as well. And I just want to glorify God through our situation.”