Cancer an unfortunate family affair for Deer Lake sisters

Paul Hutchings
Published on May 21, 2013
Deer Lake sisters Linda Goobie, left, and Barbara Nichols were both diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50, with the younger Goobie’s diagnosis in 2010 and Nichols’ in 2001.

Star photo by Paul Hutchings

DEER LAKE  Deer Lake breast cancer survivors say what actress Angelina Jolie did for the pink ribbon cause was amazing.

The actress made headlines this week by penning a column for the New York Times in which she described her reasons for undergoing a preventative double mastectomy to avoid getting breast cancer. Jolie wrote that she wanted to be in the lives of her family as long as possible after hearing that she had an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer later in life. The 37-year-old’s own mother died at age 56 of the dreaded disease.

Linda Goobie of Deer Lake chose to undergo a double mastectomy after being diagnosed at age 50 with breast cancer in 2010. After finding a lump, she said the doctors talked her out of having her breasts removed and performed a lumpectomy. Six weeks later they discovered that the cancer had spread, and Goobie said she knew what had to be done.

“I told (doctors) to take them both at the beginning right away and I’m sorry for not getting them off right away, I mean it’s only a set of boobs, get rid of them if they’re going to cause heartache,” she said. “When I was going through that there was another woman I knew of who had one taken off 10 years earlier and there she was getting the other taken.”

Coincidentally her sister, Barbara Nichols, was diagnosed nine years earlier with breast cancer, also at the age of 50. The lump on her breast turned into a major tumor and there was no question the breast had to be removed. She had the other one taken off as well as a preventative measure and has been cancer-free ever since.

“It doesn’t make you any less of a woman to get that done. There’s more to a woman than her breasts,” said Nichols. “I’ve always felt like I was a very happy and optimistic person anyway so we got through it.”

It pained Nichols to see her sister go through the same thing later but she supported Goobie in her decision. Jolie’s column first appeared May 14 on the New York Times’ website and she has been praised by healthcare providers and fundraising groups for going public with the news.

The Deer Lake sisters say they admire Jolie for her actions.

“I think it’s already made a difference,” said Nichols. “It’s wonderful what she’s done and it shows that there is hope.”

Taking a more realistic approach, Goobie said what Jolie did isn’t necessarily an option for some. She stressed that she appreciates what the actress did, but there is another side that needs to be looked at.

“I admire her, it’s amazing what she did and it’s opening people’s eyes,” she said. “But the sad part is that people with money can get their lives straightened out, they don’t have to worry about who will take care of the kids or how they’ll go to work, it’s a lot to think about (for those who are not as well off).”

Still, both sisters they hope everyone can learn from the actress and themselves to face cancer head on and do what it takes to live a long, happy life.

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