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Cancer survivor finds her voice
The Fight Against Breast Cancer
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Elly Dalton - photo by Michelle Kim

 Elly Dalton’s experience with breast cancer was so different than most, it took her some time to realize that she too had a role to play in the advocacy for breast cancer prevention. 

The financial advisor and active community member survived through several surgeries with the support of her small family and Edwards Jones financial family. However, unlike many breast cancer survivors, Dalton’s journey was much less traumatic. 

Dalton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. She said, “I did not ever really suffer any pain with my surgeries. I wrestled with the guilt of how easy it was for me, when I knew others around me who didn’t have it that easy.”

Dalton knew that the reason for her survival had a lot to do with the fact that her lump was found early. “I was very routine about annual physicals and mammographies. I was very fortunate that it was caught very, very early,” she said. 

Part of a tight-knit family consisting of her husband, two daughters, three grandchildren and a brother, Dalton admits that she was more concerned about them than she was about herself during that time. “My main concern, and it wasn’t the C-word, I was never afraid of the cancer. I was worried about family. I was more concerned about keeping their spirits up and reassuring them. I knew I was in good hands.”

Not having a genetic history of breast cancer, the biggest contributing factors were her age and lifestyle. “What I put in me, in terms of red meat and alcohol and those kinds of things they now know contributes to breast cancer and it catches up with you.”  

Since then, she has given up alcohol, limits eating red meat, exercises rigorously on a daily basis, and is doing everything she can to improve her overall health.  

Next March will be Dalton’s fifth year as a survivor, and she is looking forward to it. “I’ll go off the drug that I’ve been taking for five years and I’ll have five years under my belt. Five years is a place where you’re released from your physician. It’s very exciting.”

A year ago, Dalton was nominated for the Pink and Black Affair, an annual fundraiser held by the 100 Black Women of DeKalb organization. As a nominee, she had to write an essay about her experience. Putting her thoughts into words helped Dalton see her situation in a new light. 

“I have totally made peace with it. I’m a breast cancer survivor and I’ve got important things to say to people. I do have a story to tell; I do have something to offer to help other women.”

Though there are many, one memory that Dalton will always take with her happened on the day of her mastectomy. She was on her way to the operating room and as she passed her daughter, brother and husband in the waiting room, she saw them laughing over a joke. For Dalton, seeing them joking and chuckling completely put her heart at ease. “I went to sleep with a smile on my face.”

Dalton now advocates with a loud voice for routine mammography and breast cancer awareness. 

“Do it, do it, do it! Just get on it. Do it routinely. And don’t let anything get in the way of it. Because the earlier it’s found, the easier the process may be and the longer you’ll be here.” Early detection is her mantra and her message is for all women.