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Ally Duncan overcomes breast cancer with early detection, daughter learns from Mom’s ordeal

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Pink RibbonBreast Cancer Duncan 1 Breast Cancer Duncan 2

Allyson Duncan’s family tree reads like a survivor’s list.
Her mother has lived more than 20 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Duncan’s aunt found out she had the disease at the age of 42. She is now 73 years old.
Along with six cousins and her grandmother surviving scares from breast cancer, Duncan was familiar with the disease prior to March 10, 2008.
But it was that day when the woman known in Munford and Millington as Ally was diagnosed with the disease.
“Of course the first thing that went through my mind was, ‘Oh Lord please let me live long enough to raise my children,’” Duncan said. “After the initial shock, your world kind of stops there for a moment. Then you realize the world keeps turning. She’s in the middle of softball season. My son is in the middle of soccer season, which is the best thing. Then you can just keep going.”
Duncan and her husband Jeff prepared for the battle they were familiar with because of their families history. Jeff’s mother survived the disease as well.
But one of the toughest part was breaking the news to their children Drew and Jodie.
“They set us down in the livingroom and you just hear the word ‘cancer,’” Jodie recalled. “It brings so many emotions out. Your like, ‘What, cancer?’ It’s a lot worse than what it really seems. They caught her’s so early. It was a big deal but it wasn’t as big as some other families have gone through.”
Since the disease was so prominent in her family, Ally started getting mammograms at the age of 35. By her side the entire time has been her “rock” Jeff. And at the age of 43 whe she was diagnosed in the early stages with breast cancer, Jeff was prepared to take on the challenge.
“I think we were both, because of the family history, I kept feeling ‘one day, one day,’” Duncan said. “ But I think we handled it very well. Jeff was right by my side. Whatever the doctors said, we did. And of course we prayed about it. It turned out all good. I was very forunate catching it early.”
Duncan had her surgery March 19, 2008 and started radiation to go into remission.
“Radiation was really hard for me,” she recalled. “That is nothing compared to chemo and what others have to go through. But just for me it was hard but so worth it. Sometimes you just don’t know what’s going on. It’s just a scary time.”
It took good doctors, family support and friends in the community to help Duncan get through the scary times.
“We always made sure we where there just talking to her to let her know we wanted to be involved as much as possible,” Jodie said. “Of course, a bunch of families were bringing over food and flowers. So we had that all around us. We could share the meals together, nice home-cooked meals.
“The battle was won,” she added. “It was definitely a relief. I felt like things were getting back to normal again. You don’t have to always think about it.”
Ally said she is blessed to be in remission but the throughts of breast cancer are always in the back of her mind.
“You’re so relieved,” she said. “For me when you hear the word ‘cancer’ you automaticlly think death. It was a relief to be able to say the word ‘cancer’ and not associate the word ‘death’ with it in my case.
“You’ll always have that shadow over you,” Ally added. “But you do feel a relief although I think there will always be a shadow. I had to go to the West Clinic, they had me going every three months. I’ve now graduated down to twice a year.”
Although her trips to the doctor slowing down, when June comes around Jodie will start her visits concerning the disease. With a legacy of breast cancer effecting the last three generations in her family, doctors suggested Jodie start regular check ups at the age of 18.
“You just have to keep in mind, ‘My future is God’s path,’” the younger Duncan said. “He already knows what is going to go down. He knows what is going to happen. I just have to remind myself God has already been there and He’s got my future mapped out. I just have to trust in His plan.”
So far God’s plan has allowed the Duncans to enjoy 28 years of marriage and watch Drew graduate from Munford High School and reach college. Jodie is in her senior year and will sign a scholarship to UT-Martin to play softball after helping the Munford Lady Cougars reach three straight State Tournament.
Ally has been around to see and enjoy it all.
“It feels wonderful,” she concluded. “I’m so glad. I try not to complain about anything because it could always be worse. It feels great. And it’s what Jodie said. God’s plan for me, whatever it may be, we’ll get through it.”

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October 2013
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