GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Cortney Alstatt won’t let breast cancer beat her. Neither will her families – both immediate and extended.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy continues to wear her sheriff’s uniform during her battle with the Stage 3 disease. Chemotherapy already has proven to be beneficial, and now she’s preparing for surgery on April 16, followed by six weeks of radiation.
But through it all, the 27-year-old deputy hasn’t stopped smiling.
“I try to have a good day all the time. It was early October when I found out,” she said. “There definitely are good days and bad. I try to make more good days than bad. I think in this whole process, I’ve probably had 10 bad days.”
She gets support at home from her husband and children. She gets the same when she’s on the job working at the Detention Center.
“This is like a second family to me. It’s great to have somebody, all these people, because sometimes you don’t have that family support,” she said. “I don’t have my mother anymore. Having these people have helped in crazy ways. They’ve asked me if I needed a day off, if I needed any help at all. They’ve been so supportive. It’s amazing.”
Cortney found a small lump in each of her breasts during a self-examination last October. She immediately sought treatment, and doctors said her timing was critical.
“The one on the left, when I went for an MRI and multiple tests, this one disappeared,” she said. “The right side, it stayed, and it was getting bigger each day. They said we caught it in time because it spread to my limp nodes underneath my right arm. It was moving, so they got me on chemo right away.
“I got news [last Tuesday] that I responded well to the chemo. I did an MRI and they said it has gotten a lot smaller. With the surgery and the radiation, I should be great.”
Cortney said there’s no history of cancer in her family. “It’s creepy that it chose me,” she said. She’s now committed to insist everyone to get regular checkups, since early detection still is the best way to fight the disease.
Once she’s in remission, she’s eager to get back to a job she loves.
“I can’t wait getting to deal with the public a little bit more, being on the wing,” she said. “I work in the jail. Talking with the inmates to boost their morale, to help them out. I would have to say they’re people, too. They make mistakes. You talk to them, tell them ‘Hey, get a better attitude. Pray. Do what you have to do. Talk to your attorney.’ Give them advice. They actually love that.”
While cancer couldn’t take her determination and optimism, it did take her hair.
“I had very long hair. It was past my waist,” she said. “When I started losing it, it hurt. It hurt bad. My husband said I needed to shave it, but I couldn’t. He shaved it for me. I went to my grandmother’s funeral, and that was my first outing without hair. When people saw it, they wanted to know what was going on. I told them I had cancer.”
A disease she won’t allow to beat her.