Bernetta “Bernie” Hoagland has no time for cancer. Nonetheless, a cancer diagnosis has a way of causing the busiest person to pause.
“When you first hear that word – “cancer” – you think, it’s over; I’m done. But I thought to myself, ‘It’s not going to get me,’” said Hoagland, 71. “I love life, and I’ve got a lot of stuff I’ve got to do.”
Hoagland is a retired nurse and president of the Passavant Area Hospital School of Nursing alumni group.
“I’m a nurse so I’ve always done my breast self-exams,” she said. “I never felt any problems. But I went for my yearly mammogram, and I later got a call telling me something had shown up in my right breast.”
A biopsy revealed Stage 2 breast cancer and a mastectomy of Hoagland’s right breast was performed. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment followed.
“Every person is unique … and the nurses at the Radiation Oncology Center know how to treat each individual person,” said Hoagland.
Passavant’s Radiation Oncology Center not only features a highly trained staff but also a state-of-the-art linear accelerator, which uses high-energy radiation to damage the DNA of cancer cells and destroy their ability to divide and grow. The team caters to the individual needs of each patient, personalizing treatment to the smallest detail.
“They knew every time I came in they had to put some Queen music on because I’m a big Queen fan,” Bernie said.
She’s not one to sit around. In addition to leading her nursing alumni group, Hoagland serves on the Pilot Club of Jacksonville, the local Citizens Police Academy and the Jacksonville Christian Women’s Connection. Struck with wanderlust years ago, Hoagland’s bags are perpetually packed.
Two weeks after her radiation treatments finished, Hoagland wiggled her toes in the beach at Biloxi, Mississippi.
“I think a positive attitude, along with treatment, is the key to success,” said Hoagland. “You’re scared to begin with, but the nurses over there are so positive. I could not have asked for better care. And now I do all the things I did before I had cancer.”