Gondran: a four-year survivor
by Theresa Rose Mayard
Delores Gondran, a four-year cancer survivor, credits her faith and family for helping her through everything.

Delores Gondran, a four-year cancer survivor, credits her faith and family for helping her through everything.

Through the gamut of emotional and physical problems caused by breast cancer, Vermilion Parish resident Delores Gondran remained upbeat and never lost faith.

Gondran, 63 and a four-year breast cancer survivor, said her cancer was found during a yearly mammogram.

“I went on a Tuesday, and on a Thursday they called to tell me that I had to go back for an ultrasound because they found something that they thought looked like cancer,” she remembered.

After an ultrasound, Gondran returned to the doctor for a needle biopsy.

“The next day, it was confirmed that I had breast cancer,” she said.

Gondran urges everybody to keep up with their yearly mammograms.

“I was Stage 1 and I showed no symptoms,” she said. “You hear ‘cancer’ and it’s scary, but when it’s yourself, it’s different.”

According to Gondran, the doctors initially thought she was in Stage 1 of the cancer. Because of this, the plan was for her to have a lumpectomy and radiation. However, after her surgery on November 29, 2007, doctors found Gondran had baby and pre-cancers inside.

“That meant that my whole breast had the potential of being filled,” she explained. “It was hard to tell, as this normally doesn’t show up in mammograms.”

On January 3, 2008, Gondran had a mastectomy.

After visiting an oncologist, she learned her cancer was hormone receptor positive. Instead of taking chemotherapy, Gondran’s doctor put her on Aromasin, a medicine used to treat early breast cancer.

“I’m one of the good stories,” she acknowledged. “There’s a whole bunch of side effects (to the medicine) but you put up with it because it’s supposed to help you live longer.”

As of now, Gondran has one more year on the medication before she can stop taking it.

Gondran said her whole family was supportive throughout this entire process.

“I have four brothers who live out of state, and they were there for me,” she said. “A lot of times, they couldn’t be here, but there were phone calls. And my nieces and nephews were here for me.”

Her husband of 20 years in March, Victor, lent a large hand in her healing process.

“He’s my best friend,” she said.

Outside of her family and faith, Gondran credits The Miles Perret Center for her success.

“It was two months after my surgery when I went,” she said, “and I was really upset. Since then, I volunteer at Miles Perret. At the beginning, I would go every day and that’s what helped me get over everything. You still have memory problems- some call it chemobrain- and there were days I just didn’t feel good. But, I’d just get up and go to the center.”

To this day, Gondran volunteers at the center.

During her healing process, Gondran said she experienced a gamut of emotions.

“When they first tell you that you have cancer, you’re in a daze- you can’t believe it,” she recalled. “Then, I went through the crying, I went through the ‘why me?,’ and then I went through anger. The anger was the last one.”

Although after the initial bout of emotions Gondran found she was doing well, she began seeing a psychologist to help the healing process.

“I wanted to be sure that I was as good as I thought,” she said. “The psychologist helped me a whole bunch in understanding I was being hard on myself.”

However, after seeing a professional, Gondran found she really was as upbeat as she thought.

“I didn’t want to get a few years down the road and realize I wasn’t doing as well as I was appearing to be,” she explained. “But, you know, my parents have taught me that you just get up and go.”

According to Gondran, it’s important for breast cancer patients and survivors to talk to one another.

“Once you’ve had breast cancer, you’re all part of a sisterhood,” she said. “Whether you’ve been 10 years, 20 years, or two months, you become fast friends.”

Has having breast cancer taught Gondran anything?

“It taught me to handle one day at a time,” she noted. “If you can’t handle one day, I’d say to break it down to an hour or a half hour. Sometimes, it was only 15 minutes. Your emotions are just all over the place.

“Live as if there’s no tomorrow,” she continued. “If there’s something fun, don’t put it off.

“Just break everything down until you can survive it,” Gondran advised people who currently have breast cancer. “Your body is all over the place. You basically just have to listen to your body. You really have to be patient with yourself.”

Read more: VermilionToday.com – Gondran: a four year survivor