She thought her annual check-up would mean a short visit to the doctor's office and then she'd quickly get back to work.
Barb Goettig was 43 years old when a routine mammogram showed she had a lump in her breast that turned out to be cancerous. The Davenport woman is the honorary survivor chair for the 24th annual Komen Quad-Cities Race for the Cure.
The event begins at 8 a.m. June 8 outside the i wireless Center in downtown Moline.
Goettig, 58, was raised on her family's farm outside Miles, Iowa, and moved to Davenport after high school. She was attending classes at the former American Institute of Commerce when she learned of a job opening at Per Mar Security. She was only 19 years old when she got the accounting job, and she's been with the company ever since, serving now as accounting manager.
Goettig, whose maiden name is Carstensen, remains close to her three sisters and three brothers. She has no children, but does have several nieces and nephews.
"My sisters and brothers all share theirs with me," she said of her extended family. Two nieces, in fact, nominated Goettig for the Komen honor.
Several members of her family will be present June 8. After the Race for the Cure events in the morning, a niece is getting married that afternoon.
"It's going to be a good day," she said.
Her supporters will wear matching T-shirts that read "Barb's Buddies." Per Mar Security will sponsor one of the water stops on the 5-kilometer race route through Moline, and five of Goettig's family members will help at that site.
Goettig finished her cancer treatment in 1999 and is a 15-year survivor. She developed a subsequent case of lymphedema, which is swelling that generally occurs in an arm or leg, according to mayoclinic.com, the Mayo Clinic website. Lymphedema tends to affect just one arm or leg, but sometimes both arms or both legs may be swollen. It is most commonly a result of surgery that removes lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment.
After a biopsy showed a cancerous tumor, the lump was removed along with 16 lymph nodes.
"That's what led to the lymphedema," Goettig said, adding that she underwent both chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
The lymphedema was diagnosed in May 1999. Goettig has learned to cope with the condition, which has no cure. She wears a special sleeve and tries to consistently maintain a positive attitude.
"I also try to surround myself with positive people," she said, adding that family members provide her primary support system.
The lymphedema hasn't hampered her too much. She mows the lawn and pulls weeds at home. She enjoys quilting.
She has, however, come down with infections related to the lymphedema. Cellulitis, for example, can be an extremely painful skin infection.
"I was hospitalized a full week with that one," she said.
Enjoys race activities
Goettig has been participating in the Race for the Cure since the early 1990s, before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off during her treatments but then resumed race participation in 1999.
"It's such a special atmosphere," she said.
Goettig certainly agrees with the central message of the event, which is for women to get a mammogram regularly. Treatment for breast cancer is easier and more effective when the disease is discovered in its earliest stages.
"I am a firm believer in mammograms," Goettig said. "One saved my life."