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Mrs. Brittain, 68, walks 3½ miles at the mall every day, enjoys painting, and volunteers her time on various committees. She is ardent in her faith, quick with a smile and emanates joy.
“Nobody wants to have cancer. But I would not have wanted to miss this year. Because of what I’ve been through and people I’ve met, I’m a richer person,” she said.
Mrs. Brittain’s cancer discovery was the result of an emergency department visit. In September 2011, she went shopping and picked up a carton of 36 water bottles. “I felt something pop, and my spine felt like a rubber band.” She toughed it out for over a week, determined to be a part of her granddaughter’s birthday party. Later that night, however, the pain had taken its toll, and her daughter took her to the emergency department at Onslow Memorial Hospital. The doctors took x-rays and told her that she had broken vertebra – and cancer in her breast and bones. “Initially, they thought that I had three to six months to live. That was a year ago.”
Since then Mrs. Brittain has taken two series of chemotherapy pills and radiation oncology treatment “without having to leave Western Boulevard,” she says. “I have an inoperable form of cancer, so the goal is to keep it at bay. I have a strong faith and know that God put all these people in place for a reason.”
Mrs. Brittain is especially fond of the people at Onslow Radiation Oncology. During one of her first visits she had to lie down for her treatment, but her back was causing her a lot of pain. “It was almost impossible, but the staff slowly eased me onto the table and could see my pain. The nurse had tears in her eyes. She leaned down, kissed me on the forehead, and said she loved me. My daughter and granddaughter saw that and never forgot it.”
Mrs. Brittain quickly became a champion of Onslow Radiation Oncology, and even shared her experience in a letter to the editor of the Jacksonville Daily News. In addition, radiation oncologist Dr. Randy Blackburn asked her to become involved with one of the hospital’s committees dedicated to patient- and family-centered care. She said yes, of course.
“Because of the faith I have, I know that God is going to take care of me. I can be a vessel to help somebody else that’s where I am in my life. I have a heart of joy all the time.”