Finding Strength: Rosetta Bennett

Rosetta Bennett credits the Southeastern Indiana YMCA with helping her get her strength and endurance back.

Fourteen years ago, the St. Leon resident was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She underwent 5 months of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments and had a mastectomy. “The following year I had reconstructive surgery. Five years after that, I had a full hysterectomy because I had the breeding grounds of cancer,” she reveals.

Then six years ago, “I was diagnosed a second time. I had IBC, inflammatory breast cancer. It’s very rare. Less than 20% survive it. Not many oncologists know how to treat it because it’s a type of cancer that is very aggressive, and by the time they find it, it’s usually too late.”

Bennett had another 5 months of chemo and more radiation treatments when doctors discovered the cancer “had metastasized to my stomach and my chest wall, and there were live active cancer cells throughout the whole lymphatic system.”

In addition to the cancer treatments, the 59-year-old has also been dealing with lymphedema, a condition that causes swelling and is painful, and cellulitis lymphangitis, which causes a build-up of fluid.

The grandmother of eight emphasizes, “My body cannot deal with stress mentally or physically. If I’m in a large crowd, I get stressed out. Then I start having headaches and a fever.”

Since Bennett’s doctor wanted her to build up her strength and endurance, she joined the Southeastern Indiana YMCA, and is participating in swim classes. Now “I have more strength, my balance is improved, I meet wonderful people and it has helped me mentally as well.”

“I was a hairdresser for 30 years, but I had to retire.” She explains, “With lymphedema you cannot use your arm the same way for more than 45 minutes because it starts swelling and gets achy. I have to time myself because after a while I’m in pain and my arm is swelling. With the pool, I’m using my arm, but in different ways. My arm hasn’t swelled like it used to, which is awesome.”

Getting in the pool is “very therapeutic. My body can’t wait to get in.”

Even though it’s a daily battle for her to stay healthy and feel good, Bennett is continually up for the challenge. “I’m just thankful that I’m still here.”