Hannibal Regional News

Hannibal Regional Healthcare System News Archive

You Are A Survivor The Moment You Are Diagnosed Bookmark

Mary Sprague, a northeast Missouri resident, has a lot to celebrate - on June 7th, National Survivors Day, and every day!  


Thanks to advances in cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and follow-up care, more people than ever before are surviving longer after being diagnosed with cancer. In America alone, more than 16.9 million people are alive today after being diagnosed with cancer.


Mary was diagnosed two years ago with Stage 2 breast cancer.  She was having difficulty with rib pain which led her to find a lump on her breast.  She made an appointment with Dr. Julie Viehmann, Gynecologist at Hannibal Regional Medical Group.  Dr. Viehmann saw signs of concern so she sent her to see surgeon, Dr. Stacey Copeland also with Hannibal Regional Medical Group.  She performed a biopsy on a Monday and by Wednesday Mary was informed of her cancer diagnosis. 


From there, she met with the team of Dr. Joseph Bean at the James E. Cary Cancer Center; Dr. Kristen Strasser, Hematology/Oncology Specialist, and Dr. Copeland, both with Hannibal Regional Medical Group. She was diagnosed with HER 2 Positive Breast Cancer.  She was all set to begin her chemo treatment when Dr. Strasser encouraged her to get a PET scan to make sure there were no other issues.  The results of the PET scan showed that Mary’s cancer was now Stage 4 because it had spread to her liver.  


“I am going to live!  This is not a death sentence. I have too much to do,” Mary recalls thinking. She began chemo treatment with Dr. Strasser and her team.  “They were great, just like family!” 


When Mary’s hair began falling out her girlfriends came to her home and they had a hair cutting party.  Then foods began not tasting good, but she made herself eat in order to stay strong so she could continue with and manage her chemo.  She began meditating at night and she had shower talks with God.  


“You have to stay positive, positivity manifests healing. I am going to live to be a healthy old lady.”


Mary finished her last chemo treatment around Easter of 2019.  She had a lumpectomy performed by Dr. Copeland and 20 rounds of radiation with Dr. Bean.   She was then told by Dr. Strasser that she saw no signs of cancer. 


You are a survivor the moment you are diagnosed. Take every day with a new outlook on life.  “Tears are weaknesses leaving your body to make room for strength!  I am alive, I am living, I am a survivor!” Mary is living her life to the fullest taking on new challenges and keeping a positive outlook on life.


National Cancer Survivors Day is a celebration for those who have survived, and inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and outreach to the community.


For more information about cancer diagnosis or treatment options, call the Hannibal Regional Infusion Center at 573- 629-3500.