Scars that heal: Lorri Boatright describes her journey with breast cancer

Drew Butler

Lorri Boatright found out she had breast cancer less than one week before her 56th birthday.

It was a year ago, September 11, when I went in for a routine mammogram,” Boatright said. “My birthday is September 17, so for my 56th birthday they called me — it was Friday the 13th — and said we need to see you.”

She said the news was devastating.

“You just hit rock bottom because you’re imagining the worst — and it’s the not knowing that’s the worst,” Boatright said. “So they started testing me and doing biopsies. It was this procedure and that procedure. The hospital is calling you, and the doctor’s office is calling you. Pretty soon you’re like, I can’t take one more phone call.”

She said things improved once she got her treatment plan into place. On December 30, 2019 she underwent a double mastectomy. She then followed up her surgery with chemotherapy and radiation.

Boatright said she is incredibly thankful that she was able to receive all of her treatments in Ardmore. She is incredibly thankful to Mercy Hospital and everything they offer.

“We are so blessed to have the hospital we have,” she said. “They were there to diagnose me — how lucky is that? They had everything to find out how big it was and where it was. They were there to do the lumpectomy.”

She said General Surgeon Dr. Valerie Jolly performed her double mastectomy, and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Harry Galoob was there to help close the incisions and rebuild what he could.

After the double mastectomy, Dr. Jolly informed Boatright that the cancer had a 29% chance of returning if she did not take chemotherapy treatments. With the chemotherapy, that chance dropped down to 7%, and with radiation added onto that, the chance dropped even lower.

Boatright chose to take both forms of treatment, and is now finished with the process.

“I didn’t come this far not to go all the way,” she said.

She said she did not get as sick as others sometimes do during her chemo treatments.

“I’m lucky because I wasn’t really sick at all,” she said. “I wasn’t sick, but I slept a lot. I gained 15 pounds and I lost my hair.”

Boatright said going for walks during the process seemed to make her feel better.

“I still walked almost a mile and a half a day,” she said. “After I slept for about half a day, I would get up and go walk. It just seemed to help me.”

She urges all women to get yearly mammograms and be vigilant for signs of cancer. It had been four years since her last mammogram when doctors found cancer.

“Cancer knows no age, so girls and guys need to go out there and get checked,” Boatright said. “I showed no signs, no symptoms, and it doesn’t run in my family. I even tested negative for the gene, but there you are.”

Boatright said the love and support of her husband, son and sister helped her immensely during her fight with cancer. She also noted that her experience with cancer is nothing compared to the pain and loss she felt after losing her daughters.

“I’ve had two daughters pass away over the last 12 years,” she said. “Kourtney passed away at the age of 22 from a brain tumor, and Kimberly passed away three years ago from a drug overdose at the age of 33. I’m not getting over that, but I’m going to get over this. This is doable. These scars will heal.”

Lorri Boatright