The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 15, 2013

Laura Salter: A journey of courage


"I was so mad," she remembered. "I was digging the pen into the paper. I don't belong here. How can this be happening to me?"

It made her realize that no one is immune from cancer and how powerful it is to have someone tell you that you have it.

"It rocks your world and the world of those around you," she said. "But attitude is everything."

Laura opted for a lumpectomy, and the surgery went well. The doctor did a sentinel biopsy to find the first lymph node affected by cancer. The doctor removed one, sent it to the lab and it was positive. The second one was the same way. The third was also positive. Then he removed a larger area, which contained six more, and all came back clean.

What followed was nine months of a combination of drug treatments and radiation. This caused mucositis, where the lining of the esophagus stomach falls off because it has been irritated. Twelve treatments and 33 radiations later, Laura is now looking forward to life one day at a time.

"When you go through an experience like that, it's something you never want to get too far away from. The world sucks you back in with all that life can throw at you," she said. "I made up my mind that every day was going to be a good day no matter what. It's hard to explain to someone how much time we waste on things that don't matter."

With a son getting ready to graduate, the seriousness of the situation hit home.

"I told him, 'I'm going to do whatever it takes. I'm going to see you graduate, go to college. I'm going to see you get married. I'm going to see my grandkids. That's that."

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