By Italiana Anderson
Six months after having her second child,32-year-old Emily Durham never thought being diagnosed with breast cancer would be the hand she was dealt.
“I was going about my regular routine and as I was in the shower I found a lump…the more I thought about it I figured I should go get it checked out,” Durham said.
She and her husband Lee, both Ole Miss alums, made an appointment with her OBGYN in Oxford. He referred her to an oncologist at The Jones Clinic in New Albany, MS where she was diagnosed. After the diagnosis, she began chemotherapy in December 2016. The news hit the couple and their families hard.
“It’s been a hard pill to swallow…her family had no history with cancer and she was pretty healthy up until her diagnosis,” Lee Durham said.
The news of her diagnosis came at them like a ton of bricks.
“I was in shock, tears just started coming down as soon as I heard his voice…I was in fear initially because I didn’t know what it all meant,” Emily Durham said.
Emily began her rounds of chemotherapy in December 2016 and it has not been the smoothest time for the young couple. Unfortunately, her cancer spread to her liver, which led to stage four cancer.
“About three or four days after her chemo she feels really bad…some days she’s up and some she is down,” Lee Durham said.
Emily Durham found that she was not in this fight alone. She became close with Kahla Cobb who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year as well.
Kahla Cobb, the owner of Bella Mia Salon here in Oxford, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2016.
“When I went to shower, I felt lump under my left arm, I just brushed it off thinking it was hard breast tissue, but a month later it had become golf-ball sized,” Cobb said.
Cobb visited her OBGYN as well and was sent to get and ultrasound to see what the issue was. She had a mammogram and received a heartbreaking phone call from her doctor.
“I just dropped the phone and started crying…keeping it together and explaining it to my babies was the hardest,” Cobb said.
Cobb’s cancer had eventually spread to her lymph nodes and her level hit stage three. This news forced her to try other forms of chemotherapy and the last one they tried seemed to be working better. Cobb will be having a double mastectomy at the end of February.
“I told myself from the beginning that I would not let this get me down,” Cobb said.
The expenses of medical bills and lost wages caused Lee Durham to put together a benefit concert for E. Durham and Cobb.
On Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 8 P.M. L. Durham will be hosting a benefit concert with special guest, up and coming country singer Pat Cooper at The Lyric.
The Nashville country star was quick to say yes to performing at this benefit.
“I’m looking forward to the benefit…It’s always great to use what I do for a living to give back, the fact that they want me to be a part of it is definitely humbling,” Cooper said.
The Lyric is donating the venue to L. Durham and has a huge support system that will be handling ticketing at the front door and security. There will also be a raffle for various items that will be donated by local businesses.
This upbeat event will be a positive and fun one; the benefit is free and will be open to the public. The proceeds from the event will be equally divided between Emily and Kahla.
“The goal of the event is to have a great time, let the ladies get out of the house and they finally get to meet each other,” Lee Durham said.
Through this difficult journey both young mothers are optimistic about the tough situation they are in.
“Make sure you are surrounded with as much support as possible and have doctors that you trust,” Emily Durham said.
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death (death from any type of cancer) among women ages 20-39. While the breast cancer risk is much lower in younger women, certain genetic factors can put some women at risk.
Being prepared and having a support system is something both women believed in.
“Wake up with a smile every day because your attitude can change the situation…you just have to deal with it and keep going,” Cobb said.