Cheryl Delsite, Northumberland County
At 29, Cheryl Delsite had a modified radical mastectomy to save the radiation from hitting her heart. She found the lump on her breast in 1990 and didn’t do anything about it until six months later when she went for a yearly checkup. Her doctor sent her for her first mammogram. The lump didn’t show up, so he sent her to a surgeon who thought it might be fibroid tissue. They scheduled surgery to remove it. The whole time he was saying “You’re too young, there’s no family history…”, but then the preliminary pathology report confirmed that… She had breast cancer.
“I chose a modified radical mastectomy, because where the lump was any radiation would have hit my heart. I had just learned that I was pregnant and then I had a miscarriage. When I started treatment, I was told I would probably not be able to have children because of the chemotherapy. Three years later I got pregnant with my daughter Meghan. You should have seen the doctor’s face when I told him!” Five years after Meghan was born, Cheryl got pregnant with Morgan and then the next year had her son Collin. Now Meghan is a junior at Penn State Altoona, Morgan is a junior at Connections Academy, and Collin is a freshman at Northumberland Christian.
In 2000, Cheryl’s implant ruptured. At that time insurers were only required to cover reconstruction up to six years after breast surgery, although two years later the PBCC’s follow-up legislation would lift that time limit. Her insurance company agreed to cover removing the ruptured implant, but refused to cover the cost of replacing it. Cheryl would have had to go back to wearing a prosthesis. She reached out to family and friends for advice. Her sister-in-law was working for then Attorney General Tom Corbett. He referred her to First Lady Michele Ridge’s chief of staff. Mrs. Ridge was the PBCC Honorary Chair and she put Cheryl in touch with the PBCC. The PBCC advocated on her behalf to the insurance company. The insurer reversed their original ruling and covered the surgery.
“Through the PBCC I became connected with the ABC’S (All Breast Cancer Survivors) support group and I’m happy to travel from Sunbury to Carlisle PA for our meetings. I love these ladies. Each one of them is in a different stage of their cancer journey and they’re always willing to encourage one another.”
Cheryl celebrated the 10th anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis by getting a pink ribbon tattoo on her ankle!
On March 1st Cheryl will be at Penn State for Pink Zone. The first year she went with her daughter, her niece, a cousin and a friend. Now this year there are 40 of them going … all survivors and family members. Cheryl says they have a ball!
“I meet a lot of women when they are newly diagnosed and I tell them to be their own best advocates. Ask questions, get second opinions, and talk with survivors.”
Cheryl and her husband Kevin live with their family in Sunbury PA. She’s worked as administrative assistant for the City of Sunbury in the mayor’s office since 1996. In 2014, Cheryl volunteered over 25 hours for the PBCC at the conference, at the Ta Ta Trot, and by representing the PBCC at a number of other events throughout the state.