Abington Mom's Journey to Breast Cancer Survivorship
For Paula Hairston, Abington has always been home. She graduated from Abington High School, works for Abington School District and the mother of two is raising a family of her own here. When faced with a difficult diagnosis in 2018, deciding where to go for treatment was an easy decision.
“I grew up here. My doctors are affiliated with Abington and my children were born here so Abington Hospital has always been a part of my life,” said Hairston.
In February 2018, Hairston discovered a lump on her breast. “I just looked down and there it was,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure what to think at first because I found a lump in 2013 but it turned out to be benign.”
It was a road that she’s been down before but a mammogram and other testing revealed that this time was different. Hairston was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was referred to Melanie Nordlinger, MD, oncologist at Asplundh Cancer Pavilion.
“Fortunately, the tumor was small but the tumor was aggressive so we decided on an aggressive course of treatment to reduce the risk of recurrence,” said Dr. Nordlinger.
In April 2018, Hairston was scheduled for a mastectomy along with breast reconstruction.
After a three day stay in the hospital, she was able to go home. On her road to recovery, Hairston says she tried as much as possible to maintain a sense of normalcy – especially for her children.
“I came home to my family on a Sunday and then I was back up Monday morning, getting my children ready for school, fixing breakfast and packing lunch. It was tough but I kind of pushed myself because I still had to be a mom and take care of my family,” she said.
Hairston underwent chemotherapy a few months after surgery and two weeks after her last session, she went back to work full-time. Now, Hairston remains cancer free and happier than ever.
“I’m able to do the things I enjoy with my family and friends like going to concerts and restaurants, baking, walking the dog and college tours with my daughter," she said.
She credits a combination of faith, a strong support system and her care team at Abington – Jefferson Health, with helping her survive.
“A combination of my faith in God, a positive attitude, the support of my family and friends and the great care I received at Abington – all of that together is what helped me get through.”
Hairston says she would like to get involved with breast cancer awareness organizations and survivor groups, as a way of paying it forward and spreading hope.
“I would love to encourage others,” she said. “I want people to know that as hard as it is sometimes, you have to keep pushing, keep fighting and be positive.”