Breast cancer and COVID-19: Elba woman describes battle against cancer and deadly virus

Local News

DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — One Wiregrass woman has spent the last few weeks wondering if she’ll be able to have a life-saving surgery. This, after she was not only diagnosed with breast cancer but also COVID-19.

“Wear a mask, take precautions,” said breast cancer and COVID-19 patient Tonya Matthews. “If not for yourself, for other people.”

Five months after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Tonya tested positive for COVID-19.

“I did everything,” Tonya told WDHN. “I wore the mask, I made the people around me wear a mask. I used the hand sanitizer, I stayed in. I tried to do all the things possible to stay well.”

As if having COVID while fighting cancer wasn’t enough, Tonya’s double mastectomy was scheduled less than a month from when she tested positive. Because of that, her surgery was suddenly up in the air. This, after having to wait months for the surgery to be scheduled in the first place.

“There’s just such strict guidelines on who can come in and how many can be in the waiting room,” Tonya said. “I don’t think they’re able to see as many patients as they normally would.”

At this point, Tonya is less than a week away from her surgery. Although the chances of the operation going on as planned are good, there’s another COVID-19 -based drawback.

“You can’t take anybody in there with you so you’re making life-altering decisions without your spouse or anybody in your family being with you,” Tonya said.

Thankfully, Tonya has several medically-trained family members who will be with her during her recovery. However, she has a message for those who still don’t understand the severity of COVID-19.

“I wish that people would just realize how prone to getting COVID, how bad it can be on them,” Tonya told WDHN. “And I see a lot of healthy people die, also.”

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