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'We Had No Other Choice Than to Keep Fighting:' Wendt Center Patient Raises Awareness as Breast Cancer Survivor

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Julie Richardson rings the bell at the Wendt Regional Cancer Center.

Julie Richardson is a loving wife to James and mother to four daughters: Jenna, Jadyn, Avery and Alison. 

But, when her world was rocked by a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis in late July 2019, Julie knew she had to put up a fight for those she loved most. 

“I was scared,” Julie said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I had four daughters, and a husband, so we had no other choice than to keep fighting and hoping for the best.”

While the cancer diagnosis came as a surprise to Julie, it was even more surprising that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40.

Julie knows the key to the early detection of her breast cancer was getting a mammogram.

“I highly recommend starting your mammograms on time,” Julie said. “For some, it can be age 40 or 45. I feel like now, if I would have waited until I was 45, what would’ve happened?”

The first step in Julie’s cancer journey was a lumpectomy. From there, Julie was welcomed to the Wendt Regional Cancer Center to begin radiation therapy treatments. 

While receiving care at the Wendt Center, Julie was thankful for the support from the staff, as it helped put her mind at ease and maintain a positive attitude.

“They were amazing,” Julie said. “They are very caring and always answered any questions that I had. I was very nervous about coming here for treatments, but they totally helped ease that. They were just really great.”

From October to mid-November 2019, Julie underwent 20 radiation treatments at the Wendt Center and on November 11th, she rang the Wendt Center’s bell to signify her courageous victory over breast cancer.

“I was very relieved when I rang the bell,” Julie said. “I had hope for the future and knew this was just a bump in the road for us and now, I can move forward. The girls got to see me ring the bell, so it really was a big deal for all of us.”

Even though Julie has completed her radiation treatments, she still reaches out to the Wendt Center staff with questions on medications and side effects.

“I talked to the nurse, Julie about one of my medications that I haven’t taken yet,” Julie said. “I was just pretty nervous about taking it. But, I called and talked to her, and she definitely helped me through it.”

From the start of her journey to the end, Julie found a home at UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital and the Wendt Center. 

Whether she was at the hospital for radiation treatments or a scan in radiology, Julie was impressed with the care she received. 

“They were all just so great,” Julie said. “The surgeons were great and radiology was great, especially with what I had to go through before surgery. It was just an overall great experience.”

Reflecting back on her cancer journey, Julie is proud to be a breast cancer survivor. 

Using her survivor status as her motivation, Julie hopes to raise awareness with others on how important it is to get annual mammograms, along with paying close attention to your health. 

“I’m looking forward to living life and not taking things for granted,” Julie said. “I’m all about raising awareness for breast cancer and options for women. It’s important to know your family history. I didn’t have breast cancer in my family, so I never would have known, had I not had a mammogram.”