Local woman navigates cancer in the pandemic

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Life changed drastically for 45-year-old Nicole Acosta (now Nicole Warner), when she found out that the mass on her left breast was cancerous. 

Warner is no stranger to hospitals, as she was a frontline healthcare worker primarily working at Piedmont Northside. At the start of the pandemic, she was making masks out of surgical tray wraps to help with the effort. 

Meanwhile, a mass in her left breast, noted as a dilated milk duct on her mammogram and ultrasound, had gotten bigger. She got her next mammogram in July and received a life-changing diagnosis. Doctors told the mother of four, “You have stage three, grade two breast cancer.”

“I was at a loss…I was devastated,” Warner said. “I just kept thinking about my children and are they old enough to remember me?”

Warner was treated at Piedmont Columbus Regional’s John B. Amos Cancer center. She underwent chemo and is continuing infusions every 3 weeks for a year. 

The cancer center continues to see roughly 500 cancer patients per day, as they navigate changes including implementing COVID-19 testing for all cancer patients and doing antibody infusion treatments for anyone at risk of getting a severe form of the virus. 

“I know I’m not done yet,” Warner said. “I still have some more hurdles to overcome, but I’m positive about it. I just pray to God and thank Him for every day that I do have.”

Warner rang the bell earlier this year to signify the completion of her chemo treatments. As of now, she is preparing to do radiation therapy while battling another underlying health condition. 

Her hope for the future is to ring the bell once more when she finishes her radiation.  

Tomorrow is World Cancer Day, which is a day to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. Tomorrow, people are encouraged to support all of those who have been affected by this disease.

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