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Smiling and surviving

Hopper’s family, friends at her church and community members have all offered support, and she received plenty of it from the nurses at Shannon’s Oncology Center too.

Jennie Hopper has a fabulous smile.

It’s the first thing people notice. Her smile is her symbol of courage and strength, which are attributes the 77-year-old great-grandmother and avid painter demonstrates time and again.

Hopper is a breast cancer patient. Again. She is battling it for the second time in six years. But just like the last time, she’s smiling through it and not letting it slow her down. The weekly art classes she teaches every Thursday afternoon are still on her schedule, and she is just as devoted to her art projects in her apartment at Rio Concho Manor in San Angelo.

Her battle with cancer started when she was diagnosed in 2005. She first suspected a problem when the nipple of her breast became inverted.

“I was shocked,” Hopper says. “I went to my family physician and he recommended that I have a mammogram. At the time, I didn’t know that was a possible symptom of breast cancer.”

Hopper began treatment immediately. Michael Cornell, MD, a Shannon Clinic surgeon, performed her lumpectomy. That was followed by radiation and medication. She was also prescribed tamoxifen, a drug used to fight and prevent breast cancer, which she took until last February, when she went in for her regular mammogram.

It showed another lump.

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me again, but I know that I’m going to get over this,’” Hopper says. “God is taking me through it.”

Hopper had a mastectomy and completed four rounds of chemotherapy at the Shannon Medical Center Outpatient Chemotherapy Center. She is also receiving Herceptin every three weeks at the center and will continue that through next April.

Like most patients in chemotherapy, Hopper started losing her hair after the second treatment. But she decided to do something about it.

“I went to my hairdresser and asked her just to shave my head,” Hopper says. “She cried the whole time, and I laughed the whole time. I find that is the best way to deal with it.”

Hopper’s family, friends at her church and community members have all offered support, and she received plenty of it from the nurses at Shannon’s Oncology Center too.

As part of her battle with cancer, Hopper has tried to learn as much as she can about the disease and its symptoms—an education she is sharing with her granddaughters.

“Go and get those mammograms for sure, and stay in touch with your doctor,” says Hopper. “Don’t ignore any type of symptom that you’re having. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

And, like Hopper, keep smiling.

The Shannon Oncology Center is conveniently located at the Shannon Medical Plaza. Call 325-658-1511.
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