Cora Gray had a mammogram performed every year, so when she felt an enlarged lymph node after having back surgery in May 2014, she didn’t think much of it and forgot about it.
She later visited the dermatologist who noticed a “knot” and asked about it. He sent Gray for a biopsy and was later told she has cancer.
Initially, her doctors couldn’t find where the cancer was coming from. A friend recommended she see Dr. Beth Riley, a medical oncologist at UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center for a second opinion. Dr. Riley performed her own tests and diagnosed Gray with triple negative metastatic breast cancer.
About 15 to 20 percent of people with breast cancer have triple negative breast cancer, which is often more aggressive than other types of cancers, making treatment more difficult.
For patients with triple negative breast cancer, the cancer cells aren’t receptive to three different hormones, which means hormone treatment is usually off the table and it must instead be treated with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Gray has been through it all, including several rounds of chemotherapy. Her husband, Bill, drives her to every appointment from their home in Mt. Washington.
“Dr. Riley is the best – she’s family,” he said while showing off a photo of their new grandson to Dr. Riley.
Gray said, “I don’t know how we would have made it through without her and her staff. Dr. Riley is a God-send to us. God put her in our lives because she is so thorough with everything.
“Everybody here, they are such good people. I couldn’t find a better place than Brown Cancer Center and I would tell anybody to go here because they’re fantastic.”
Originally from Barbourville, Ky., Gray said she got a mammogram every year, but the cancer never showed. “I knew I was getting tired easy, and my primary care doctor did blood work, but nothing showed up until that lymph node did and I was in fourth stage when they found it.”
“My advice is to get the 3D mammogram,” she said. After being diagnosed she got genetic testing, which showed she wasn’t a carrier of the gene. “My daughter gets the 3D mammogram done every year because of that.”
Gray said she has been very blessed to raise two children, a granddaughter and now a grandson. “If the good Lord lets me live until November 24, I’ll be 70 years old and I’ll be very blessed. I’ve learned to accept things and not waste the time I have. I wake up, take the day and enjoy it – I don’t squander it.”