By Rebecca Alexander
Joan Uhler of Brevard is a wife, mother, and a woman of faith. Joan is also one who seeks new adventures and journeys; she loves exploring the world and traveling on cruises with her husband.
But in 1996, Joan was faced with an unplanned and daunting journey – a breast cancer diagnosis. The news was devastating, but Joan was not going to let cancer control her life. She began an aggressive treatment plan, which included receiving five chemotherapy treatments at a time spaced out for three weeks.
Joan put her trust in the care of Dr. James Weaver of 21st Century Oncology, formerly in Brevard. Because of Joan’s focus and dedication to her treatment plan, as well as the quick response in treatment by Dr. Weaver, Joan was able to keep her plans for an upcoming cruise.
Upon arriving home, Joan was surrounded with wonderful support from her family, her faith and her church. She was able to complete her chemo treatments and win what would be her first battle with breast cancer.
Having a sense of humor throughout the process helped to alleviate some of the hardships Joan was facing during her battle. Due to the chemo, Joan lost much of her hair and decided to have her husband shave the rest off. Joan recalls her daughter stopping by for a visit shortly after this, and jokingly told Joan that they were all ready for Halloween. “Cancer is serious, but you don’t let it ruin your life. You get through it and you’re a survivor,” said Joan.
There’s no question Joan is a true survivor. During a yearly checkup in 2008, Joan received the news that her cancer had returned in another form. While this was news no one would want to receive, Joan listened to her own advice and did not let cancer ruin her life. She kept an active lifestyle and continued to look to her faith during another trying period in her life.
Even through all of these frightening times, one aspect remained constant in Joan’s life – her and her husband’s love for cruises. She and her husband continued to hit the seas, living life to its fullest. In fact, Joan and her husband went on a 35-day cruise in 2011 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was an experience she’ll always hold dear, and it was made possible by her perseverance through trying times, and the care she received with her doctors at the Cancer Center.
Joan is currently still battling cancer, but remarks that the amazing care she has received at the Brevard Cancer & Infusion Center has made her journey much smoother.
When Dr. Weaver retired, Dr. Shantae L. Lucas took over Joan’s treatment. “I love her dearly. I don’t think I could have a better doctor or medical care,” Joan says, discussing Dr. Lucas and her time at the Cancer Center.
During Joan’s downtime, she attends a weekly prayer group, helps clean her home, helps her husband grocery shop, and cooks – she still does it all. Joan gives credit to the Cancer Support Group she attends at Transylvania Regional Hospital for her ability and motivation to stay active. She appreciates how the patients in the group seem more at ease after meetings.
This December, Joan will be a 9 year survivor from the 2nd battle which started in 2008 and a 21 year survivor from the first battle in 1996.
“Do not let cancer run your life. Take one day at a time,” said Joan. “You deal with it and then you go on to the next days. Despite some hard days, there will also be days that are wonderful.”
Dr. Shantae L. Lucas, MD, is an internist at Cancer Care of WNC and the Brevard Cancer & Infusion Center.