October 29, 2012

In the News: Hospital honors one of their own

Originally published in the Times Daily.

When Cathy Holmes was told just 10 days ago she had breast cancer, she quickly realized she wouldn’t be fighting the battle alone.

Not only did she have her family to offer support, she also had a group of coworkers that have rallied around Holmes, the nurse manager at J.W. Sommer Rehabilitation unit at Shoals Hospital. That group showed support for Holmes and other breast cancer fighters and survivors with a surprise balloon release Tuesday at J.W. Sommer.

A surprised and crying Holmes was comforted by her husband, Tim, as Shalako King, the rehab unit’s administrative assistant spoke about rallying around those diagnosed with breast cancer.

And Cathy and Tim, a tennis instructor at Cypress Lakes, stood in the middle of a circle of support as pink balloons, some with names or words of encouragement written on them, floated into the clear October sky.

“We are a family,” said Pam Moore, director of the J.W. Sommer Rehabilitation Unit. “Many times we are with our coworkers more than we are with our spouse. We love each other. We care about each other. We worry about each other.”

Cathy’s cancer was found during a routine mammogram. She said she has had abnormal results before and wasn’t incredibly worried when she was called back for more screenings. But this it wasn’t just scar tissue. It was cancer.

“It’s small; it’s early,” she said. “I’m going to have good results.

“This is just one of those bumps and lumps on the road of my life.”

She said her son might have summed it up best when he said “You’ll be fine. You are a tough old bird.”

She is scheduled for lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy Nov. 1.

And because she is a mother figure in the department, she is spreading the word about the necessity of annual screenings.

“I’m the big advocate now for the yearly mammograms,” Cathy said. “I’ve talked to the ladies in the unit who haven’t had one this year, and they are scheduling them.”

And that’s one of the reasons King said she scheduled the surprise.

“We don’t want this to be a sad thing,” she said. “We want to bring more awareness.”