One year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, businesswoman Melody Booker of Milford is cancer free and looking forward to leaving the disease in the past as she continues her work as Business Development Leader for the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO). With a positive attitude and a determination to beat cancer, she now hopes that her journey can encourage women to be proactive about detection through self-examination.
A Political Science graduate from the University of Maryland, Booker obtained her Master’s Degree in Public Administration through University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration. Working her way up the corporate ladder in sales through television and radio over 17 years, she decided to cold call the DEDO Director Alan Levin for a position in the newly established economic development agency under Governor Markell. She now works as the Business Development Leader assisting existing businesses with regulatory issues, expansion and government resources.
Melody was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma last October after she found a lump in her breast that she had never noticed before. It had been fourteen months since her last annual check up and Booker decided she needed a professional opinion. Following a mammogram and ultrasound, doctors decided that a biopsy was in order, which was preformed two days after Christmas.
“It is so important for women to know their own bodies because this type of cancer was not discovered through a mammogram,” commented Ms. Booker. “It is so important that if you notice anything different about your body, see a doctor immediately and do not be scared or wait.”
Last February Melody received a bilateral mastectomy in an attempt to remove the cancer from her body. A week later a positron emission tomography (PET) CT Scan was performed to locate any free-range cancer cells; none were found. A decision made by Booker and her doctors, Melody decided to undergo chemotherapy and radiation to prevent the formation or spread of cancer moving forward. With a positive attitude Melody underwent eight treatments of chemotherapy and 28 treatments of radiation over a four month period.
“Everyone has a different journey and I believe you have to remain yourself as you go through these treatments,” commented Ms. Booker. “Although I was scared I stayed positive and continued to work through the week. I thought the most important thing was to be myself.” Melody stated that on the days she received treatment she made it a point to dress up and wore high heels. She stresses that every individuals journey is different and this was a part of hers.
The week after her doctors told Melody she was cancer free she received an unexpected call from a blocked number. When she picked it up she was greeted by Governor Jack Markell as he asked Booker how she was. She still laughs as she tells the story that she commented to the Governor that she was “wearing her new wig and she felt that she looked pretty good.”
Booker believes that this journey has made her a better version of herself as she is more calm and peaceful about life. “There are so many different types of cancer and levels of severity and I understand that what worked for me may not be what will work for someone else,” commented Melody. “I do want people to know that you still have the absolute ability to live and love to the fullest. Whether it is your church, family or your work you can keep going.”
Overall Melody hopes that if anything, women can learn from her to be proactive in self-awareness and examination. She stresses that “cancer cannot always be detected by mammograms or other examinations and that knowing your own body can be the best prevention.”