Wendi Bishop’s survival leads leads her to VFAC volunteerism
by JOYANNA WEBER Banner Staff Writer
Oct 24, 2012 | 1145 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wendi Bishop
 WENDI BISHOP joined the Volley for a Cure committee this year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.
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­ Her own journey with breast cancer has led Wendi Bishop to become involved in many awareness activities and fundraising events.

Her newest venture is being a member of the Volley for a Cure committee. This yearly event raises scholarship money through the MaryEllen Locher Foundation for a qualifying senior planning to attend Lee University.

Bishop was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 30 following a self-exam. Bishop believes that God lead her to feel the lump because a self-check is not something she normally did.

“If He had not at age 30, I wouldn’t have been looking,” Bishop said.

Despite this, Bishop said she waited three months before going to a doctor to have her suspicions confirmed.

“I was scared,” Bishop said.

Before going to the doctor, Bishop told her husband and her parents that she thought she had breast cancer.

Bishop later received a phone call saying that she did have breast cancer.

Even though she had expected this diagnosis it still came as a shock.

Her three daughters were 4, 6 and 9 at the time.

“(It was) very, very hard. Because as a mother your first thoughts of every day and your last thought of every night is of your children,” Bishop said. “I didn’t know if I was going to live or die, and I wanted to be the one to raise my girls.”

Prayer and her family were the two main things that got Bishop through the treatment process. Bishop had some of her lymph nodes removed and then started six months of chemotherapy.

“After the chemotherapy I wound up having a double mastectomy because during that time they tested me for the (BRCA) gene and found out that I was positive,” Bishop said. She underwent the procedure “to lower my risk of it reoccurring,” she said

Bishop later had reconstructive surgery.

She said she had a big support system to help during her journey.

“People overwhelmed us with kindness and love,” Bishop said.

After her diagnosis, Bishop also tested positive for the BRCA gene, one which has been linked to increasing a person’s risk of having cancer. Being tested for the gene was an option the doctor’s presented since Bishop had been diagnosed so young and because of a family history of breast cancer. Bishop’s aunt had also been diagnosed with it.

“Of course in my panic stage right afterward I wanted to get them all (my daughters) tested when they were little,” Bishop said.

Bishop said a person must be 18 or older and give consent for the needed blood test in order to be tested.

Since Bishop’s journey with cancer other family members have also been diagnosed with breast cancer, including her mother. The BRCA gene is from her dad’s side of the family. Several other family members have also been tested for the gene.

A year and a half after her initial diagnosis, Bishop was dealing with more of the emotional side of having breast cancer.

“I started every day having fears; I was overwhelmed with fear that it either wasn’t all gone or it would come back and I just had to pray and ask the Lord to take that fear away,” Bishop said.

She said she has not worried since.

Ever since her experience with cancer, Bishop has been involved in efforts to raise awareness and funding for, and be supportive of, those going through it.

“When I was diagnosed, I wanted to hear stories of survivals. I wanted to hear (stories) of women who had gone through he the exact same thing I have and have survived and were OK,” Bishop said. “Since that time ...I have made myself available to anybody and everybody who wants to talk about it with me.”

This has included phone conversations and communicating via the Internet. She said she is often asked about what to expect during chemotherapy.

“I’m still doing that. I did it last week ... I even left my phone number at the doctor’s office for anybody who needed to talk ,” Bishop said.

This year these efforts have expanded to include participation in Volley for a Cure. It started when friends began asking where to buy this year’s T-shirts. After Bishop asked about helping sell the shirts, she was asked to be a part of the Volley for a Cure committee. Bishop said since this is her first year, she is still learning everything that is involved. This year she is focusing on selling T-shirts, having sold $2,000 worth of shirts with the help of her daughter.

“We want to help give back. I can’t stress how great they’ve been to Emily, to me, to our while family. They are special, special people,” Bishop said.

Last year during the annual volleyball game Bishop’s daughter Emily was named as the recipient of that year’s Volley for a Cure.

This year’s contest will be held on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Lee university Walker Arena.