Editor’s note: This is a continuing series featuring area breast cancer survivors to help publicize breast cancer awareness and the need for early detection.
JANE LEW — Diane Ocheltree remembered to receive an annual mammogram every year except once.
“I had missed my mammogram one year. So I had my next one Jan. 22, 2016, to catch up. It was a surprise when midwife Vicki Smith called several days later to tell me there was a highly suspicious area found and recommended a biopsy,” Ocheltree said.
Jane Lew’s Ocheltree, the head of respiratory therapy and a registered respiratory therapist at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston since 1992, was in surgery at the hospital a week later. The surgery found cancer cells so Ocheltree underwent a partial mastectomy.
Beginning March 14, 2016, the Jane Lew resident born in Weston underwent 16 radiation treatments at United Hospital Center in Bridgeport. She still worked at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in the morning before 2 p.m. radiation treatments.
“I was done by the first of April,” Ocheltree said. “I went every day of the week — I think the only day I missed was Good Friday. Radiation was not that bad for me. People told me stories of how it burned them and this and that, but it was only like a sunburn to peel.”
However, having a 40-year career in healthcare made the Lewis County High graduate of 1977 strong-willed through the entire process.
“I’ve seen a lot of illness and been around a lot of injuries and death. The process is kind of built into us,” Ocheltree said. “When I found out there was something suspicious, it was like, ‘OK, what’s the next step?’ I had to keep a positive attitude.”