Life was moving forward for Sharon Funck and her husband George, as retirement had settled in and a move to Walker Lake was taking shape. They had raised two daughters, had loving grandsons and had just purchased a major fixer-upper at the auction steps in Hawthorne, when Funck noticed a nickel sized lump down from her throat, in the breast area.
“I was on a quick vacation to my daughters and I didn’t have an immediate concern about it. But within several days it had grown into the size of a silver dollar, so I knew I had to get it checked out.”
Once home, she sought out a doctor’s exam which led to a biopsy – a huge ordeal for someone who hated to have blood drawn and cringed at the sight of an injury. Within days it was determined to be a fast growing cancer, which required immediate surgery and aggressive treatments thereafter.
“The timing was crazy because we had planned to take our time refurbishing our lake home, but now everything went into fast forward. We were just four days into owning it when the diagnosis came.”
Funck’s family stepped up to get bathrooms working, flooring and painting done and the basic home needs completed. Knowing the decorating talents that Funck had, the family was willing to set that portion aside for her to accomplish later. She needed something to look forward to and setting up her new home with her own personal touches would be just the goal she needed.
As Funck explained it, her adverse reaction to shots, needles and doctors diminished as she went through a two year journey of treatments. Following the surgery, she was allergic to the first chemotherapy, so with the choice of two others they put her on one that she referred to as “The Big Red Devil.”
According to Funck it’s the one that made her lose her hair, become deathly sick and required trips to Reno every three weeks. As time went on, there were blood transfusions, weekly shots at Mount Grant Hospital to re-build her white blood counts, and plenty of medical staff in her life. She expresses thanks to the many special people that brought her through to recovery. She related one phase when her husband doted on her by cooking various foods just to get her to hold down one bite. It was his simple peanut butter and applesauce that finally worked, she admitted. Today her husband, family and even the medical community smile with her as her final “port” was removed last week – the end to her treatments and weekly commitments of care.
“It is a celebration that no one but a survivor can understand. It was a part of me; implanted into my chest for two long years. I guess it was a lifeline for the medications, but once it came out I was ecstatic with joy. The medical staff said they’ll miss my homemade brownies, but they hugged me and shared in my completion.” Funck stressed the importance of early detection as her aggressive type of cancer would’ve taken her life just five years ago.
Today, she has experienced the standards and medical advancements that are in the favor of early detection. With incredible results in her own life, Funck is now able to get follow-up visits every four months for now, which is finally allowing her and her husband to take a much needed vacation away. “Just a year ago, my tumor markers went up. I was a year in at that point, and my husband and I cried together as we thought we’d never make it, or have another vacation together. But loving support, good strong encouragement and a solid medical community can get you back to living life again. I am proof of that and will be forever grateful.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. Early detection is the key, so appropriately scheduled mammograms are recommended. About one in eight women, born in the United States today will get breast cancer at some point, but the good news is that survival rates are high when treated early on.