“I’ve got things to do and places to go” Breast cancer survivor Izora Earl

Breast Cancer Survivor Izora Earl Izora Earl had every right to be anxious when she found out in spring 2014 that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Breast cancer had claimed her mother and her grandmother.

But Izora wasn’t anxious.

A woman of faith, Izora instead settled into a place of determination. “I was like, ‘OK, Lord, I know you’ve got this. I’m going to break the chain. I’m going to get over this.”

Then it was her doctor’s turn for her faith. “I remember the last thing I said before I went into surgery: I’ve got this. Do you?” Surgeon Kelly Favre looked at her and said, ‘I’ve got this.” Izora closed her eyes and embraced the chance for healing.

Izora, who had a successful lumpectomy at Tucson Medical Center in May, jokes that she just has too much to do to let cancer sideline her. An image consultant who, at 73, is retiring for the third time, she quips she’s planning on being at the mall – or better yet – traveling to some fantastic locale like Costa Rica.

“But in all seriousness, I wish more women would be more aware and take care of themselves,” said Izora, who gets an annual mammogram and credits the technology with catching the disease early, when it is more easily treated. “Women are always so busy taking care of everybody else, whether it’s their kids or their parents or their husband, that they don’t always take the time to do what they need to do for their own health.”

Karen Narum, the women’s health care nurse practitioner at the TMC for Women Breast Screening Clinic, said what many women may not know is that only 5 percent of women have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. The Clinic does a statistical model with screenings, taking history into account, but for Narum, the bottom line is that preventive care is important. “Really, we’re all at risk for breast cancer. You shouldn’t feel secure just because it doesn’t run in the family, because the vast majority of women with cancer don’t have that family history at all.”

Breast Cancer survivor Izora Earl with dog MistyIzora’s own strength has been tested a number of times. Her father died before she was born. When she was born, doctors didn’t think they could save her – but had underestimated her will to live. She survived four heart attacks in the eight years preceding 2011. She nursed her mother through her illness and then honored her wishes when she finally had to be hospitalized to not be resuscitated – which she describes as the hardest thing she’s ever done. And in 2013, she lost all three of her older brothers in a matter of months to either cancer or heart attacks.

“I’ve always been a glass-is-half-full kind of person,” she said.

Any given day might find the Southeast Side resident working out at a gym or walking on a treadmill to stay in shape.

She has a number of reasons to value her health, with three adult kids who keep her faithful to that treadmill and just gave her a new cell phone to master, not to mention eight grandchildren and one great grand-child. “I just knew then, and I know now, that I’m going to be OK. I’ve got things to do and places to go.”

 

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