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Uinta County Fights Cancer ~ Part 2: ‘His feet were so blistered when he was done’

Posted: Friday, Jul 5th, 2013

Evanston resident Toni Bradford — who beat breast cancer — is helping with the 2013 Evanston-Uinta County Relay For Life Aug. 23-24. HERALD PHOTO/Anjoli Mosier

EVANSTON — The people behind the survivors, the people who have to go on living despite the outcome and watch those they love suffer, often get forgotten when their loved ones get diagnosed. When someone gets diagnosed, it becomes all about the patient. And while that support for the patient is amazing, Toni Bradford — a breast cancer survivor — says that she thinks in some ways, her battle was harder for her husband, Joseph.

Watching someone you love lose all of their hair, be so sick from treatments that they can’t sleep, can’t move and must fight for life throughout the process — is there anything harder? 

“The first year I was diagnosed, my husband walked the full 24 hours for Relay for Life,” Bradford told the Herald. “His feet were so blistered when he was done.”

He walked a full 24 hours for three years in a row.

Throughout Bradford’s ordeal, her husband was beside her — when he could be. He slept in the basement for three months during Bradford’s treatments, because the noise and movement hurt her. He fixed cold sandwiches in a dark kitchen as quietly as a mouse, because smells and light made his wife sick. He went to all of her treatments in Utah and Rock Springs.

The company her husband works for, Bradford said, was incredible as well, allowing time off — no questions asked — making sure he got as much paid leave as possible, and even assisting with going over the medical bills afterward. Bradford said that Solvay Chemicals really saw them through.

Brsadford worked for Smith’s Food and Drug in Rock Springs at the time of her battle, and she said they were hugely supportive, as well. Bradford continued to work throughout her treatments on the weekends, when she was able. 

“If I could just work,” Bradford said. “That really helped. It was normal. I could get through this if I had that lifeline.”

Diagnosed in September 2000, by November Bradford had had a mastectomy, and then proceeded with chemotherapy and radiation through April 2001. Bradford said when you get diagnosed with cancer, you think you are prepared for what is to come. 

“I was never so sick in my entire life,” she said. “And I lost every bit of hair on my body.” An emotional trip to the hairdresser for a buzz cut after her hair began falling out in clumps in the shower Bradford recalls as one of the most traumatic parts of her experience. When she got home, her husband took a shaver and shaved off the rest.

That wasn’t all bad, once Bradford got used to it. There was no easier way to get ready in the morning than to wash your bald head and go. Bradford said she plans to keep the short hair for that reason. Getting ready in the morning is a breeze.

Tomorrow is never a guarantee. Be nice. Live for every moment. Put your best foot forward. Appreciate and enjoy life. All these are things Bradford has taken away from her brush with cancer. 

On the board for the Evanston-Uinta County Relay for Life this year, Bradford said teams raise money for the lifesaving cancer research undertaken by the American Cancer Society. Come walk, join a team and help put a stop to cancer.

For more information, or to participate in the Relay for Life this year on Aug. 23-24, contact Diane Harris at Compassionate Journey at (307) 789-8316.

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