Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Columbus Woman's Breast Cancer Fight Strengthens Her Faith

I feel so much more connected with God now.”

By Shelly Burke, Editor

Lynn Vollbracht knew that the results of her mammogram were not normal when she waited longer than usual for the radiologist to come in and talk with her. When he finally came in and told her he’d already set up an appointment with a surgeon, Lynn expected him to diagnose another harmless cyst; she’d had several in the past. When she voiced this to him, however, he solemnly told her that this was not a cyst, it was almost certainly cancer.

Lynn remembers, “I started praying right away. I prayed that I would feel God’s peace, no matter what I heard. I felt that peace immediately.”

That peace stayed with Lynn through the next difficult days of waiting for the results of the biopsy and beginning treatment; first a lumpectomy, then chemotherapy followed by radiation (Lynn will be more than half way through her course of 33 radiation treatments when you read this).

Lynn, who lives in Columbus, NE, with her husband Mark, put off having regular mammograms after her doctor left town. She delayed finding a new doctor as she was very busy as the Director of Day Care at Immanuel Daycare and Preschool in Columbus and spending time with her husband and children, Natalie, Ashley and Lindsey, and grandchildren Addison and Duncan.  

When she finally scheduled the mammogram, it had been several years since the last one. She wasn’t worried; she’d been doing breast self-exams and hadn’t found any lumps and there was no family history of breast cancer (90-95% of breast cancers are diagnosed in people with no family history).

Events moved quickly after the mammogram on March 23, 2012 and official breast cancer diagnosis on March 28th. Lynn had surgery on April 3rd, opting for a lumpectomy rather than a complete breast removal (the lump was a little over an inch in size); doctors told her that statistically a lumpectomy offered the same cure rate as a mastectomy and would mean less recovery time and a quicker start of chemotherapy. She had her first chemotherapy treatment on April 30th, just over a month after the diagnosis was made.

Lynn told the preschoolers and her grandkids about her diagnosis, and explained that she would lose her hair during her treatment. She recalls this as being the hardest part of the treatment; “I would look in the mirror and be shocked, because I had never seen myself without hair—it is such a part of us, especially women.”

The kids unexpectedly helped brighten chemotherapy days for many people in the Columbus area. Lynn’s treatments took place at the Columbus Cancer Center, and she spent many hours there (some forms of chemotherapy are administered over several hours). At one point she and her daughter Lindsey, who accompanied her on chemo days, noticed how “boring” the walls were. They had a brainstorm and asked for permission to bring in artwork made by the Immanuel preschoolers and daycare kids and hang it on the walls. Lynn said, “The kids were so excited to do something to help others who were sick, and their art work really brightened up the place. We still take new pictures every few weeks. The patients and nurses love it! It is an example of something positive—something I would never have dreamed of happening—coming from such a trying time.”

Lynn’s faith and prayer life have become much stronger since her diagnosis. “I feel so much more connected with God now. I’m so thankful to my parents for bringing me up in faith.  When I start to worry and stumble, I am reminded to put the whole situation back into God’s hands.”

Lynn has received many cards, words of inspiration, and Bible verses during her treatment. She marvels at their timing; “I received just the right verses and words at just the right times. It was so reassuring when people told me they were praying for me. I could truly feel God’s presence and peace.”

Since her diagnosis Lynn has realized the importance of screenings and urges women to get mammograms as recommended by their doctors. “Just do it!” Lynn says. “While the humorous accounts of how mammograms feel are funny to read, I’m afraid they scare women. Mammograms really are not painful, and the discomfort is so much less than what you go through if cancer is diagnosed. Please, have your mammogram and other health screenings!”

Read more about Lynn's journey on her

Lynn encourages everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or knows someone who has been, to check out the American Cancer Society. They offer many resources, including wigs (if not covered by insurance), books to help explain cancer to kids (and grandkids), classes that cover many issues related to cancer and much more. Go to or call 1-800-227-2345.