Amarillo Wedding Planner Finds Vital Support During Cancer Battle

One Sunday night last July, Parie Donaldson found a lump in her breast. It had been eight years since she had gone in for a routine mammogram and she inherently knew it wasn’t good. “It was a pretty big lump and I just had a feeling immediately it could be breast cancer,” she said. “I called BSA Harrington Breast Center first thing Monday morning and they told me to come in the next morning to have it checked.”

Parie went in on Tuesday morning to have a mammogram. “It was a whirlwind because right after the mammogram, they sent me straight to have an ultrasound and biopsy,” she explained. Parie knew they could not tell her immediately what they found, but she saw a glimpse of the ultrasound screen, and she knew what it was. “I thank God that Melinda the ultrasound tech was in the room with me because after I saw the screen, I broke down and she grabbed my hand and was just everything to me that day.”

As Paire left the office, she knew it was cancer. “I didn’t know how bad it was, but I knew,” she said. “My husband had been traveling for work, but he immediately flew back so he could go with me to meet my nurse navigator, Bobbie the next day. That night, my husband and I tried to plan out different scenarios and questions to ask. I am a wedding planner so my whole life is about planning, figuring things out, having a plan B and being ready for whatever may happen. I have two kids who at the time were 17 and 14 years old and two older stepdaughters and grandchildren, so we were trying to plan it all out and come up with every possible question we could think of.”

Parie and her husband met with Bobbie the next morning and Parie’s suspicions were confirmed that she did have breast cancer “Bobbie was just a godsend to us, she knew exactly what to say and what to help with,” she shared. “I still went into shock mode even though I knew deep down already. All of the questions we had come up with were out of my brain completely, but Bobbie knew what I should ask and she had it outlined and written out so we could take it with us and go over again at home. She also was available by cell phone whenever I needed her, which was invaluable to me.”

At the age of 53, Parie underwent chemotherapy to try and shrink the size of her tumor before removal. “Unfortunately, the chemotherapy did not shrink my tumor, so I had a double mastectomy and hysterectomy to get rid of all of the estrogen in my body,” she shared.

Parie had her final surgery in June 2017 and started her checkup schedule. “My body is free of the disease, so now I will go in for checkups every three months for the first year, and then every six months the second year,” she said. “After all that has happened, I’m trying to figure out how to navigate the new normal. Through this whole experience, I had an amazing support system. My husband, my two kids, my dad, my sister and my two employees were all so helpful. I have a huge network of friends here in Amarillo who did a meal train for weeks during my chemo and my surgeries. I feel very blessed and lucky. I don’t know how women go through this without the support I had.” 

BSA Harrington Cancer Center also supported Parie through her journey. “I think it is so important to have a great medical team because even the faces at the front desk were so important to me each day at BSA Harrington,” she shared. “My husband canceled his trips and was there for me during my radiation treatments, but then he started traveling again. Thank God for the girls who knew me at BSA Harrington, because I didn’t feel like I was walking in new, I felt like I was part of the family there and everybody knew my name.