Alice Shinn was all packed and ready to go on a two-month dream road trip with her husband Troy. Then, soreness in her breast became a detour.
The Shinns moved to Sulphur in 2012 after a storm damaged their Oklahoma City home. After a hectic move, the couple decided to go on a road trip to visit family members and a few other sites. Prior to leaving, Shinn and her husband went in for a check up with the doctor.
Bags were already packed when the telephone rang.
"All I heard was 'this is the lady from the breast imaging place.' I had complained of soreness, so they decided to have me come back in," Shinn recalls.
An ultrasound showed a grey area, and an MRI showed the cancer in her lymph nodes.
Shinn had a needle biopsy. "I was confident everything would be OK," she says.
Despite nothing showing up on her mammogram, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer, metastatic in the lymph nodes.
Then, bags began to be unpacked.
Shinn decided to have both breasts removed in a surgery in Oklahoma City.
"I have a family history that shows getting it — one then a few years later the other one," Shinn admits. "It was a good decision, because there was a pre-cancerous mass."
On a trip to Ardmore, she just happened to drive past Mercy Hospital Ardmore and the Cancer Center that had only been open a year and a half.
"I've been blessed with amazing Christian friends from around the world, and I was able to find the Cancer Center here," she says. "God took me where I needed to go. I thought I'd have to go to Oklahoma City."
Shinn underwent 16 chemotherapy treatments and 35 radiation treatments. In July, she finished radiation treatments.
Shinn prayed for grace throughout what she calls her "cancer detour."
"I'm going to be better. It's still a detour, but I've started traveling again," she says.
Shinn says she suffered "minimal" side effects, including losing her hair.
"That didn't bother me, because that was a part of the healing," she decides.
Troy cut her hair as soon as it began to fall out, as Shinn couldn't stand the mess.
"He's been a great caregiver," Shinn confides. "Every need I had, he took care of me. He's a man of many hats."
Not much surprised her, but sometimes she was struck by things she didn't know about.
"I didn't want to do radiation, but I read about the type of cancer I had and found out it was better for me," Shinn explains.
Another unexpected part of her treatment was being given steroids while doing chemo, and gaining weight. Then, when Shinn began radiation, she could not lose the weight because she had to fit in the form that was already made.
"I had great care and met a lot of people," Shinn acknowledges. "I felt really blessed."
At the beginning of October, the Shinns restarted their traveling with a road trip to Indiana. They returned a week ago after visiting Alice's brother.
After some follow-up doctor appointments, they plan to visit their daughter and grandchildren in Georgia.
In the spring, they plan to visit Shinnston, W.Va., named after Troy's ancestors. Levi Shinn's two-story log cabin, built in 1778, is the oldest standing structure in north central West Virginia.
"This was an aggressive form of cancer I will have to watch out for for the rest of my life," Shinn says. "Whatever happens with my life, God is in control of it. We are born to die. When it comes, I am ready. I don't want it to be today or tomorrow, but I am ready."