Rebecca Goodman was working on a piece of art this summer in Union County, Ky., thinking it would be a great way to get new exposure in the Louisville market.
A professional artist and art teacher, Goodman was asked by her sister, News and Tribune Business Manger Janice Ashby, to create a work for an upcoming art show and auction to raise money for breast cancer research.
“I have done a lot of fundraising pieces and thought, ‘I’d be open to that,’” Goodman said. “I’ll be honest, the initial motivation was business-related — to get into the Louisville market and get some exposure there.”
Goodman was tasked with creating a piece of art which reflected how breast cancer had touched her life.
“I participate in Relay for Life [in my home county], so that was what had affected me,” she said. “Since I do horse paintings a lot, I decided to paint a horse with a pink palette. That was my involvement with breast cancer — it was as close as I could get to the subject.”
All that changed in August, when Ashby told her youngest sister she had been diagnosed with cancer.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Ashby, 53, went in for her routine yearly mammogram Aug. 12 and found out nine days later she had stage II invasive ductal breast cancer.
“The initial reaction was shock and disbelief,” she said. “It’s the fear of the unknown and that something was beyond my control. What I did was immediately educate myself, and I found some power with that knowledge.”
Ashby said with that knowledge came a sense of purpose which settled her nerves. She knew what she had to do.
Taking care of business comes naturally to her sister, Goodman said. That helped Goodman deal with “that sinking feeling in my stomach” she got when Ashby told her of the diagnosis.
“She’s the oldest [of seven] sisters. She’s my big sister, and she’s always been a ‘make-it-happen’ kind of woman,” Goodman said. “This isn’t something that will defeat her. She will defeat it.”
With that attitude, Ashby forged ahead and had a mastectomy of her left breast Sept. 26. She’ll soon meet with her oncologist in Louisville to map out the rest of her treatment plan.
She said finding a medical team she trusted was key, and even changed medical groups when she wasn’t comfortable with her care early on.
“If you don’t trust the doctor up front, you’re going to be uneasy,” she said. “Pick someone you can talk to and are comfortable with.”
Goodman used more forceful words — ones she said were shared with her by a cancer survivor in her home county.
“If you do not like your doctors, your doctors do not like you,” Goodman said. “You need harmony through this battle. You need people fighting for you.”