In April of 2015, Sevier County native Kelly Goshcoff-Thompson felt a lump in her left breast that seemed to have come from nowhere. She told her husband, “I’m pretty sure I have cancer.”
Her life came to a standstill.
Two weeks later, she was standing in the LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center for her very first mammogram, feeling anxiety and worry over what news may come. And unfortunately, she was right. She had breast cancer, but her mammographer wanted a closer look. Goshcoff-Thompson was referred for a PET scan at Thompson Cancer Survival Center, part of the Covenant Network which includes LeConte Medical Center. The scan revealed Goshcoff-Thompson had not one, but two lumps and seven affected lymph nodes. It was extremely scary news to receive at the young age of 44.
“The one in my right breast was smaller than my pinky fingernail,” Goshcoff-Thompson says. “The one in my left breast was about two inches, so it was a pretty good size for me not to have felt it, and then for it just to be there the next day!” Even though this day was two years ago, she still gets emotional when she remembers.
After biopsies, it was time to tackle the cancer head-on. Goshcoff-Thompson’s treatment plan began with chemotherapy at Thompson Cancer Survival Center-Sevierville, located next door to LeConte Medical Center. She started with chemo every other week, then weekly. “They’re wonderful,” Goshcoff-Thompson says of the staff at the cancer center. “They care.”
After her second chemo treatment, she began to lose her hair. She was devastated but determined.
“I cried,” she says, “but then I said, ‘Okay, I’m done crying.’”
She bravely marched into her kitchen and told her husband to shave her head. Goshcoff-Thompson says a woman doesn’t know how strong she really is until she has to go through cancer treatment. “I wore a baseball cap for five months, and I got called ‘sir’ a couple of times,” she laughs.
After chemo, surgery was scheduled in December of 2015 to remove the tumors and affected lymph nodes. Goshcoff-Thompson chose a double mastectomy because she wanted to eliminate any chance of cancer making a comeback.
After radiation treatments and physical therapy, Goshcoff-Thompson was released from treatment, nearly a year after first discovering the lump in her breast. These days, she can be found greeting customers in the LeConte Medical Center cafeteria, working at the same hospital where her surgeon removed her cancerous tumors and put her on the path to a restored quality of life.
Goshcoff-Thompson’s experience with breast cancer has changed her perspective on a lot of things. She appreciates her family and friends more deeply. She has developed meaningful friendships with coworkers, and in her free time she enjoys hiking and nature photography. She cherishes life.
“You enjoy things more,” Goshcoff-Thompson says. “Even days when it’s gloomy and raining, everything is still beautiful.”
She also has strong advise, gained from personal experience, for others. “Don’t be afraid. Nowadays if you catch it early enough it can be treated,” Goshcoff-Thompson says. “You put it off – that’s your life. If I had just brushed it off, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
The LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Thompson Cancer Survival Center-Sevier brings world-class cancer care to the residents of Sevier and surrounding counties.
Mammograms save lives, so don’t put off getting yours. To schedule your screening, call the LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center at (865) 446-8000. A physician’s referral is not required.