Venecia had a hysterectomy in 2005 and was put on hormone therapy. In February 2006 she noticed a knot in her left breast. It hurt. She’d always heard that if something like that hurt, it would probably be a cyst.
“That’s why I wasn’t that concerned about it,” she said. “I thought it was a cyst. I went to see my doctor in April and had a mammogram. It was a tumor.”
By the time she had a biopsy, which was the day before her 42nd birthday, the cancer, infiltrating ductular carcinoma, which she was told was aggressive, had already spread to her lymph nodes. She had a mastectomy on that one breast. She wanted one on her right breast but her surgeon didn’t think she needed it and told her that it would be “an overkill.”
She spent most of 2006 taking chemotherapy and radiation. Then she took medication for the next five years to help prevent a recurrence, all the while following up with visits to the doctor every three months.
“I had all my scans done once a year, then almost exactly five years later, I felt a knot in my right breast,” said Venecia. “I went immediately and had it checked. It was cancer, so I had to have another mastectomy. Because I had waited the first time, it had gotten in my lymph glands. Had I gone earlier, it probably would not have, so I had this mastectomy right away.”
Venecia only had chemotherapy this time. She took one treatment a month for six months and was declared cancer free.
“I had prayed and asked God what I was supposed to be doing,” said Venecia. “I knew you don’t just go through cancer twice like I did and still be here. I knew I was supposed to write a book and go around and speak about my experience.”
So, she began writing her book. The name of it came easily – “I’ve Got to Get Some Things Off My Chest.”
In September she felt something in her chest wall. It was another tumor. Doctors took it out, and she spent the fall taking 40 radiation treatments.
In January two small spots were found on her lower right lung.
“They were very small and scans had to be run back to back every three months,” said Venecia. “They told me it was more dangerous to go in and take them out than to start chemo, so I started chemo this past Feb. 1. Then the middle lobe of my right lung collapsed, so I had to stop chemo for a month to let my lung heal.”
When she went back to her oncologist in April, it was time for more chest scans. The chemotherapy was taking such a toll on her this time, she told her she wanted to have her chest scanned before she had any more treatments. The spots on her lung were gone, so she told the oncologist she wasn’t doing any more chemotherapy.
For the fourth time, Venecia is cancer free.
“Cancer isn’t funny, but when you can laugh when you have it, it helps you and your family get through it,” said Venecia. “Laughter changes your whole attitude. In 2006 when I was first diagnosed, my children were 10 and 11. They saw me laughing a lot and not getting depressed and upset. Basically, all their teenage life, I’ve been dealing with cancer.”
Venecia’s book is finished. She’s sent the manuscript in to Cross Books, which is affiliated with Lifeway Christian Books, in March.
Venecia said in the seven years she’s been going through cancer, she has learned that many corporations make money off cancer victims.
“I hope they’re going to fine a cure, but personally, I don’t feel like they do enough for the patients and their families,” she said.
That’s why she formed the V Foundation, an incorporated, non-profit organization. Its purpose is to provide aid, support and comfort to cancer patients and their families.
“I want to go in and make sure all chemo rooms have portable DVD players,” said Venecia. “Sometimes people are there from four to six hours, and I want them to be able to watch funny movies if they want to. I want to give care packages to the patients and gas cards to help them out financially. I want to brighten their day a little bit and I can do this by sharing my faith and love with them.”
The V Foundation is a non-profit that means that it’s tax deductible. Checks can be made to the V Foundation and mailed to 113 Morgan Ave, Piedmont 36272. Receipts will be mailed before the end of the year.
“I’ve Got to Get Some Things Off My Chest” will be out sometime this summer.
Venecia is planning on spending a lot of her time at book signings.
“If I can sell 1500 copies the first month, Lifeway could possibly choose her to go on a book tour to all their stores for signings,” she said. “That’s my goal.”
The book has a lot of humor in it, said Venecia.
“It’s all about my journey and how God uses foolish things to confound the wise. If you think about it, God used a little boy to kill a giant.”
Venecia said she couldn’t have made this journey without the support and prayers of everyone in Piedmont, especially her friends and family.
Her husband, Curtis is finance manager at Classic Cadillac in Anniston. Their son Nathan, 19, works at Silver Lakes Golf Course, and daughter Chelsea, 17, will be a senior at Jacksonville Christian Academy this fall. Venecia’s parents are Charles and Sandra Benefield. Her sister and brother-in-law, Randa and Bobby Joe Carroll, have been by her side through it all. Venecia graduated from Piedmont High in 1982 and attends Cross Plains Church.
“When God says it’s time for me to go to heaven, I don’t want anyone saying cancer took my life,” she said. “I don’t want cancer to get credited for my death. I want to get finished with what I was meant to do.”
That includes speaking at churches, women’s conferences and youth groups. She has spoke 27 times since September, including Piedmont High School’s baccalaureate.
Contact Margaret at email@example.com