Breast cancer survivor: Mary Bordeaux

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 10/7/21

Mary Bordeaux discovered she had breast cancer when she went in for her annual mammogram in 2016. She’d gone in on a Wednesday in January to get her annual physical exam and her mammogram was …

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Breast cancer survivor: Mary Bordeaux

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Mary Bordeaux discovered she had breast cancer when she went in for her annual mammogram in 2016. She’d gone in on a Wednesday in January to get her annual physical exam and her mammogram was scheduled for that Friday at 5:30 p.m. She had expected normal test results because she hadn’t had any symptoms. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, she said.

“I did my mammogram on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. at Memorial Hermann in Katy, and Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., I received a call from my OBGYN stating that there had been an irregular result and that she was concerned that it also was in my lymph nodes, that she needed me to have further testing quickly along with biopsies,” Mary said.

At first, she said, she had planned to keep the issue to herself until she knew more about what was happening. With a family history of breast cancer that included her mother, a couple of aunts and her brother having had the disease in the past, she didn’t want to worry family members if it wasn’t necessary.

However, the process of getting tests performed changed her initial plans. The hospital called to let her know that she would need to pay $800 to get the biopsies done. She knew that her husband, Danny Bordeaux, would be alerted to the charge on the credit card as soon as it went through. Mary told Danny what was happening, and she said she immediately received his full support. The couple decided to keep the issue from the rest of the family until they knew the test results for sure.

Those test results came soon enough as they went in for the tests at Memorial Hermann’s Memorial City Hospital.

“While we were doing the biopsy, the technician said, ‘I’m going to call the doctor in,’ and then the doctor came in and said, ‘You know, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you know, it is positive and it is in your life.’”

Mary said her first thought was that she was grateful her mother who had passed recently would not have to see her go through treatment and her second thought was thanking God that it was her and not her young daughter.

Treatment began pretty much immediately because she had an aggressive form of breast cancer, Mary said.

“In fact, when we interviewed some oncologists, they were like, ‘Can you start tomorrow,’” Mary said.

Treatment started with a holistic review of Mary’s case with every related specialist in one room reviewing what needed to happen to ensure she became well again. Mary said she likes to tell people she got the “deluxe package” when it comes to breast cancer treatment. For her, treatment included two different types of chemotherapy, then surgery, then radiation treatments to eradicate the breast cancer she was facing.

Mary said the treatment had its challenges, but despite her general avoidance of medication, she chose to put her faith in the oncologists and other medical professionals coordinating her treatment from the beginning. She set aside advice on alternative forms of treatment and went with the medical experts she knew she could rely on to steer her on the road to recovery.

“I just knew I had to rely on people who I consider to be experts in the field – the oncologists,” Mary said. “And there was no dissension among them initially on what had to happen with (my case). So, I chose my doctor, and I immediately went to treatment.”

Mary said she did make mistakes though. One of the most significant, she said, was telling her children that she didn’t want anyone to know about the cancer diagnosis. She had thought keeping her support circle small would protect them, but that wasn’t the case.

“I realized in hindsight that probably was not a good thing, because it affects the whole family. It doesn’t just affect the patient,” Mary said.

Once the information was shared, the community rallied around her and her family, Mary said. Her son, Tollie Bordeaux, was on the football team at Cinco Ranch High School at the time and the coaches and team stepped in to support him. Her daughter, Emma Bordeaux, was not yet driving and Danny was busy coordinating care and working, so family and friends helped with meals and other items.

“And that is what my takeaway from my cancer was – that God’s greatest commandment is just to love one another,” Mary said. “The rest of the stuff is just details. We received the love and I can tell you that I had a very strong, strong support (network).”

Mary said her journey with cancer isn’t over yet. She does have to monitor things closely and while she appears cancer-free at this point, from a medical perspective she won’t have gone into remission until she hits the 10-year mark of being cancer-free. She’s currently at about five years with her treatment concluding in late 2016, though she and her doctors still monitor her health closely.

For now, she advises anyone facing a breast cancer diagnosis to keep a positive mindset. While she acknowledged that treatment is harsh on the patient’s body, positivity and allowing others to support them will be keys to recovery.

Mary now works to help others keep a positive attitude toward their recovery. Whether it’s a positive message on a Facebook group or any other thing she can offer in support, she does that. She wants to bring a positive light to those facing the changes cancer can bring to their lives.

She also tries to enjoy the simpler things in her own life such as time with family and friends.

“Those are the things for me,” Mary said. “I realized life really is short and we don’t know when our life is going to end, so every day I wake up and I’m grateful that I’m living life.”

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