Newlywed celebrates end of breast cancer treatment with tattoo
Becky Roberds’ wedding was set for July 11, 2015. The 38-year-old had already selected her venue, invited the guests and tailored her dress. Then, in early April, she noticed a lump on her right breast, just a week-and-a-half before her scheduled well-woman exam.
“I said, you know, I’m not going to freak out and reschedule my appointment sooner. I’ll just wait until I see my doctor,” she recalls.
Becky’s doctor suspected it was a cyst, but he encouraged her to undergo further testing and a biopsy. She got a mammogram and ultrasound through MD Anderson Cancer Center Breast Care at Memorial Hermann.
“I went to school for medical assisting, so when they were doing the ultrasound, I saw the blood flow to the mass, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I knew right then that it was a tumor,” says Becky, who had lost her stepmother, father, mother, grandmother, aunt and two uncles to cancer.
Preparing for breast cancer treatment at MD Anderson in Katy
On May 4, 2015, Becky got her biopsy results: her tumor was malignant.
“Honestly, I knew that I would have cancer at some point in my life,” Becky says. “Because of my family history, I just had an inclination.” That’s why she didn’t even wait for biopsy results to start planning. By the time her doctor had called with her diagnosis, she’d already done her research and set up an appointment at MD Anderson in Katy with Catherine Akay, M.D.
“Dr. Akay likes to use the most aggressive but least invasive approach,” Becky says. “She doesn’t want to remove anything she doesn’t have to, but she wants to be as quick and effective as possible.” That approach appealed to Becky.
Becky tested negative for a BRCA gene mutation, which meant she wasn’t at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers. So Akay recommended she undergo a lumpectomy rather than completely removing her breasts with a mastectomy.
Cancer doesn’t stop happiness
With her breast cancer treatment on the horizon, Becky’s wedding plans became uncertain.
“Everything went up in an uproar,” she says. “Not only were we dealing with wedding planning, we were dealing with cancer surgery at the same time.”
To offer some relief, her brother-in-law and his wife offered to pay for a Vegas wedding before she started treatment. Becky scrapped all her wedding plans, and on May 30, 2015, she married the love of her life during a quick weekend getaway to Las Vegas.
“It was an unimaginable wedding. It was fantastic,” she says.
“His bedside manner is amazing,” she says. “He was so informative. I admired that because that’s exactly what patients need when they’re in that situation; we need to be given information so that we’re able to make an informed decision.”
A tattoo to celebrate survivorship
Becky Roberds' tattoo
At the end of her breast cancer treatment, Becky decided to commemorate her survivorship -- permanently. She walked into a tattoo shop with her MD Anderson radiation card in hand.
“I wanted to incorporate MD Anderson in with the tattoo because I felt that I needed to pay patronage to what they did for me,” she says. “I beat this with their help and God’s help.”
Becky now dons a tattoo of MD Anderson’s cancer strike-through logo on her arm, along with a pink ribbon. It reminds her daily that she overcame cancer and empowers her to embrace each day as it comes.
“Every day is a milestone because without God and my doctors, I wouldn’t have the clean bill of health that I do today,” she says.