In Nov. 5 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Local cancer survivor Ruth Branscum amazes friends and family with her willpower, positive attitude and strong faith as she continues to battle the disease that has hampered her life for more than two years.
Branscum, 68, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and has been down a long, tough road since then. But things are beginning to look up for her as she nears the end of her latest round of treatments.
"Between the doctors, the man upstairs and the prayers it seems to be working," she said. "So I'm very happy about that."
She had her first PET scan in January 2008 followed by a biopsy on her breast that same month.
Branscum was diagnosed with stage four breast and lung cancer after another doctor visit later that month.
She began chemotherapy treatments in February 2008 at the Commonwealth Cancer Center in Russell Springs and after 30 chemo treatments began a chemo pill.
Earlier this year Branscum had one of her breast removed. She then began another set of chemotherapy with a different medicine in August that she continues to this day.
She said she was so thankful for the folks at the local cancer center for their support.
"They are such positive people there," she said. "They are just wonderful to work with."
Branscum, who is retired from the culinary union in Las Vegas and most recently worked a 15-year stint at McDonald's in Russell Springs, also participated in her first American Cancer Society Relay For Life this past year and hopes to be present at the event in 2010.
"I've lost my mother, father, two brothers and my grandfather to cancer," she said. "And I decided I was going to beat it."
She said she tries to stay positive and thanks God every day and night for the procedures she has undergone.
"They've came a long way with the treatments," she said.
Branscum said she currently has chemotherapy treatments every Tuesday at the center and has had four laser treatments in Lexington on her lung because it cannot be operated on.
She said the method used to give her the treatments is painless and visits and calls from family and friends help to keep her upbeat, especially on days when she feels bogged down.
"My daughter (Terri Drake) calls me everyday, sometimes twice a day, checking on me and making sure I'm okay," she said.
She keeps a positive look on things, as well she should.
"If you let it start beating you down, then you've lost," Branscum said. "It is in the doctor's hands and in God's hands."
She remembered telling someone a few weeks ago that God wasn't finished with her yet.
"He's got other plans for me," she said.
She spoke of her three young great-grandchildren and of seeing them grow up.
"I want to stick around at least 20 more years and see them," she said.
Branscum said she also gets calls and cards from representatives from various area churches as well.
"I've got four more treatments and then I go for a PET scan to see if it has knocked out any of it," she said. "What happens next is up to the doctor."
"I've got a lot of people praying for me, which helps," she said. "I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer."
Branscum said she has enjoyed the beautiful autumn days and sometimes catches herself watching out the window at the falling leaves.
"We take it for granted," she said. "There are no promises, just do the best you can with what you've got to work with."
She did speak of one of her insurance policies, which will rise from $55 a month to $183 a month, starting at the first of the year.
"That big of a jump is hard to cope with," she said. "Plus, I'm trying to pay off the cancer center and the doctors. It doesn't take long to get behind with the prescription drugs."
Branscum is taking calcium and other multivitamins along with her cancer treatments and hopes to someday soon be rid of the cancer that has hindered her for so long.
"You get tired of being sick," she said. "I'd love to be out there this morning washing down my walls but I know I can't do it so I don't worry about it."
But with the determination and heart of a champion, Ruth Branscum had just one last thing to say.
"Don't count me out yet."