Lucy Beall Graeme

Breast Cancer Survivor

Lucy Beall Graeme possesses an unshakable optimism and zest for life. She has always been too busy living life and giving back to let obstacles get in her way. Even a cancer diagnosis nearly 15 years ago couldn’t slow her down. “My advice is not to treat cancer like a death sentence,” Lucy says. “Treat it more like a cold you’ll get over if you take your medicine and do what the doctor says.”

“I have always been a healthy person,” Lucy says, “and I’ve almost always had my annual mammogram.” Every mammogram had been negative until the one Lucy had on New Year’s Eve 2001. “This time they found something,” Lucy said. “I went to Dr. Zlomke’s office, and Dick, my husband, was there too, because you need somebody to hold onto for something like this.” Lucy describes surgeon Michael Zlomke, MD, director of the Methodist Jennie Edmundson Breast Health Center, as “very welcoming” and “just the nicest guy.” 

“I explained to Lucy that her test results showed one tumor in her right breast and two tumors in the left,” Dr. Zlomke said. “Hers was a lobular breast cancer that tends to present further along, making treatment more complicated. My recommendation was bilateral mastectomy.” At that moment, Lucy didn’t understand the diagnosis as clearly as she understood what must be done. “I had to give up two things, but at my age, who needs them?” Lucy said. “My view was to get those breasts out of here as soon as possible.” “There was no pity party, just a determination to fix this and keep going,” Dr. Zlomke said. “Lucy always knew her life, family and community responsibilities were bigger than cancer could be.”

From day one, Lucy refused to allow cancer to scare her, slow her down or undermine her self-confidence. She never saw a need for reconstructive surgery and remains untroubled by the loss of her breasts, saying, “So I’m flat-chested. So what?” While Lucy concedes that breast prostheses can help make ladies’ clothing fit better, she says, “They don’t help me feel better. I’m kind of proud to be done with all that and only wear them for special occasions.” 

For Lucy, life remains an adventure to be lived and enjoyed without regret. “What has to be has to be,” Lucy says. “We go with it, and I’ve got to keep going!”