DEARBORN - When Anne Gyurnek turned 40, her primary care physician recommended that she have a baseline mammogram. She had it done and didn’t think much about it until she received a call back from the doctor’s office telling her that the results looked suspicious and she needed to have the test repeated.
“I was shocked,” said Gyurnek, a senior test analyst at Ford Credit. “I was a nervous wreck. It was like I was in a dream.”
After the second mammogram, Gyurnek’s doctor told her she needed to speak with a surgeon to schedule a biopsy.
“All my family and friends kept telling me biopsies usually come back fine, but I just had a feeling that something was wrong,” she said.
Two weeks after the biopsy, Gyurnek received a call from the surgeon.
“I was at work when she called me. I was sitting in my cube and there was no one around,” she said. “I just remember calling my dad and crying.”
Gyurnek’s surgeon said she had ductal carcinoma in situ, a very early form of breast cancer.
“I remember picking my kids up from after-school care that day and I felt like I was in a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from,” recalled Gyurnek, who had two boys ages 5 and 9 at the time.
The next day Gyurnek and her husband met with the surgeon to discuss options, and she decided to have a lumpectomy. After undergoing the surgery, however, she received some unexpected bad news.
“The surgeon told me that the margins weren’t clear (meaning some cancer may have been left behind) and that I would have to have another surgery,” said Gyurnek. “That was the worst thing ever to go through that again because I hadn’t yet healed from the first one. I think that was when I hit my low point. It was devastating, and I was just exhausted.”
Following the second surgery, Gyurnek underwent six weeks of radiation and was on a drug called Tamoxifen for five years to help prevent the cancer from recurring.
Today, almost seven years later, Gyurnek is cancer-free.
“I go see my primary care doctor and get a mammogram every year even though I hate it,” she said. “It’s a big emotional ordeal but I go because I know that’s how they caught it. So that’s my big thing – telling everyone to go and get a mammogram.”
In addition to advising others to get regular mammograms, Gyurnek is a strong proponent of Ford Warriors in Pink.
“My aunt had breast cancer, so I would always donate to the cause,” she said. “I always supported it never thinking it was going to happen to me.”
She also participates in the Komen Race for the Cure.
“The walks are just a mind-boggling, uplifting experience,” she said. “The Ford team does a great job getting everybody together. My sons were hesitant to go but now they love doing it. That’s the one morning on a weekend that they never complain about getting up. They do it for mom and they enjoy it.”
Gyurnek recently participated in a photo shoot with other Ford breast cancer survivors for a Warriors in Pink ad – designed to raise awareness for the cause – that appeared in a recent issue of Automotive News.
“I was so nervous to do the photo shoot because I hate having my picture taken. I was also scared because I always compare my experience to people who have gone through chemotherapy, but my husband reminds me that I’m still a survivor,” she said.
Gyurnek says the energy in the room that day was electric.
“I left there on such a high because all the women were so happy – even those who were just finishing chemo,” she said. “We all bonded, and it was just priceless to be there.”
One of the things Gyurnek says she will always remember about her experience with breast cancer is the support she received from colleagues, friends and family. She encourages others to reach out to those who are facing a serious illness.
“If you don’t know what to say don’t say anything. Just send them a card or a coupon for dinner. Just be there for them,” she said. “I had people send me uplifting sayings on magnets and that would cheer me up. Just the little things helped.”
Gyurnek says many people were there for her during her ordeal, but her father got her through some very tough situations.
“My dad was there when I got the first call that I had cancer. He was at home with me when I got the call that I needed a second surgery. Thank God he was there because I don’t know what I would have done if I was by myself,” she said. “I just felt like I was falling, falling, falling . . . and that was probably the most amazing thing for me, to have him there.”
She also says she will be forever grateful for the love and support she received from her husband Adam, who also works at Ford Credit.
“He was and is my rock in life. He held me up throughout the entire journey,” she said. “To celebrate my five-year anniversary as a survivor he even took me out to get a special pink ribbon tattoo!”