Woman uses radio to give voice to breast cancer fight

It’s a word no one wants to hear, “It’s – cancer.” But in October 2010 that’s exactly what the diagnosis was for 48-year-old Liz Ray, general sales manager for KJewel radio station in Fresno.

“I was always good about getting my annual mammograms and doing self checks,” Liz said, who was shocked by the news. She had gotten a mammogram every year since she turned 40, never smoked, and had no history of breast cancer in her family, but her mammogram in late September 2010 at the Marjorie E. Radin Breast Care Center at Clovis Community Medical Center revealed a small, dark mass that needed further investigation.

She returned to the Radin Breast Care Center for another look and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within days of getting the news she hit the airwaves at KJewel and talked about it for breast cancer awareness month. There was no doubt or fear in her voice. No tears. No sounds of a woman who just had life-changing news. There was only advice for others.

“Get your mammogram,” she said.

Liz became a symbol of strength to those around her during this difficult time. She even found herself reassuring her coworkers that everything would turn out OK.

Bev McCann, nurse coordinator at the Radin Breast Care Center echoed many of the same sentiments about Liz as her coworkers.

“As far as processing goes she was sort of a poster child,” McCann said.

She remembers Liz being very focused on her recovery with a “do what we gotta do” attitude through surgery and chemotherapy. McCann said Liz was upbeat and ready to fight. One day McCann called Liz in the middle of chemotherapy to ask if she would tell her story and pose for a few pictures and Liz said, “Sure, I’ve got some great wigs!”

Liz attributes her good attitude to faith and her wonderful support. On the day she started chemotherapy she video Skyped with her son who was studying abroad in Italy to see that he had shaved his own head for her first appointment.

“The support I received from my doctors and the staff at the Radin Center was incredible,” she said. She recalled at her first consultation all of her doctors and nurses were there for support: “It was an awesome thing to have everyone there all at once. It made my decision so much easier to make and helped me feel calmer about the process.”

Liz chose to do her treatment at the Radin Breast Care Center for many reasons. It was extremely important to her to be close to home.

“I have busy career, two boys and a husband,” Liz said. She was also influenced by the experiences of other women. Liz has a friend whose sister went to the Bay Area for treatment and she told Liz if it was her she would stay at the Radin Breast Care Center.

“That meant a lot to me,” Liz said. “I knew she could make a better comparison of the care than I could.”

But what swayed her decision most were the people. “My doctors and the staff were compassionate, helpful and so informative. They took care of everything, every step of the way. From beginning to end they were there.”

Liz finished her chemotherapy and is ready to move forward as a cancer survivor.

“I am so grateful and fortunate that I was taken care of at Radin,” she said. “Support is so important and that’s what I received.”

Katie Whitney reported this story. She can be reached at medwatchtoday@communitymedical.org.