Celebrating the End of Treatment
- Beloved former QVC host Antonella Nester, 57, took to Facebook and YouTube to tell fans that she’s completed her radiation treatments for her cancer. In November 2020, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and later with breast cancer.
- Radiation is often used after surgery to kill off any cancer cells that may remain in the breast or surrounding area. However, there have been some debates concerning the proper radiation procedure for breast cancer.
- It’s important to try to build a sense of community while undergoing cancer treatment. It doesn’t have to be big – like Nester’s thousands of followers – but opening up to others about your struggles during a cancer battle can be beneficial to you and possibly those you reach out to as well.
Nester grew a wide audience for herself by touching people all across the nation with her endearing personality on TV. But her world began to turn upside down when she was fired in July 2020 along with many other popular QVC hosts.Read More
Then, Nester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. And when doctors removed a lump from her arm, they found another lump in her breast. Now the 57-year-old is facing yet another life obstacle as she deals with breast cancer – but she knows she’s not alone. A friend of Nester’s, Jayne Hansen, was kind enough to create a GoFundMe to give her extra financial support, and Nester has been consistently receiving encouraging messages from fans as she updates them throughout her cancer journey.
In her most recent YouTube video, Nester announced that she had undergone the last of her 16 radiation treatments that began in September. She’ll still take chemotherapy pills for the next five years, but the smiling tv personality was ecstatic to be finished with radiation.
“Hey ‘bookers and ‘tubers, this is the big day,” she said in her video. “It is the very last radiation treatment and I’m gonna get to ring the bell… I gotta say thank u obviously to Jefferson for everything thank you to the YouTubers, the ‘bookers, my family. You guys know I wanted to quit for a couple times, and all these people and you held my hand, pulled me up and made me keep going, so this bell’s for you.”
Her husband filmed as she proudly rang the bell marking the end of her radiation treatments, and she left the cancer center with a smile on her face singing the Rocky theme song.
“I love you guys. I don’t ever want to see you again,” she said to the hospital staff. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand.”
Understanding Breast Cancer
Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer. And while mammograms aren’t perfect, they are still a great way to begin annual screening. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends women begin mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45. It’s also important to be on top of self breast exams. If you ever feel a lump in your breast, it’s important to be vigilant and speak with your doctor. Voicing your concerns as soon as you have them can lead to earlier cancer detection which, in turn, can lead to better outcomes.
There are many treatment options for people with this disease, but treatment depends greatly on the specifics of each case. Identifying these specifics means looking into whether the cancerous cells have certain receptors. These receptors – the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor – can help identify the unique features of the cancer and help personalize treatment.
“These receptors, I like to imagine them like little hands on the outside of the cell, they can grab hold of what we call ligands, and these ligands are essentially the hormones that may be circulating in the bloodstream that can then be pulled into this cancer cell and used as a fertilizer, as growth support for the cells,” Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview.
One example of a type of ligand that can stimulate a cancer cell is the hormone estrogen, hence why an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer will grow when stimulated by estrogen. For these cases, your doctor may offer treatment that specifically targets the estrogen receptor. But for HER2 positive breast cancers, therapies that uniquely target the HER2 receptor may be the most beneficial.
Chemotherapy & Radiation for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer treatment can vary greatly from case to case. Some women have chemotherapy and radiation done on their own, but others have it done with a surgical procedure – like Nester. The purpose of radiation is to kill cancer cells in a targeted way. With breast cancer, it is often used after surgery to kill off any cancer cells that may remain in the breast or surrounding area. But this method is not a top choice for everyone. Some debates focus on whether you should expose the whole breast or part of the breast to radiation. The main goal is to always offer the best outcomes with the least side effects, but some doctors disagree as to exactly how to go about doing that.
Chemotherapy has also always been a hot topic of discussion, but there’s been significant advances to this therapy. Now doctors have the Oncotype DX test to determine if a woman would be able to go through the treatment and avoid serious side effects. If a person’s score is low, it tells doctors that chemotherapy is not the best option for them. Essentially, their prognosis will not improve with the treatment, so it’s not worth putting them through the immense physical toll.
Relying on Community
During a cancer battle, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There’s a community out there for you to be vulnerable with, if you’d like, and it’s worth it to at least try to connect with some people as you battle the disease. Antonella Nester has been very up front with how much her viewer community has uplifted her and pushed her through her cancer journey.
“There were times when I just wanted to quit and you wouldn’t let me,” she told her followers. “You supported me through everything and, you know what, that’s priceless. There’s no amount of money, nothing that can do that.”
But Nester is definitely not the only to build a support system in that way. Kate Hervey is another cancer warrior who has touched many people by sharing her story. A young college girl, she was shocked to be diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that tends to form near large joints in young adults, after seeing her doctor for tenderness and lumps in one of her legs.
Hervey, a nursing student at Michigan State, had to handle her cancer battle during the COVID-19 pandemic and scale back on her social activities as a high-risk patient. That’s when she turned to TikTok as a creative outlet, and inspired thousands.
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” she says. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Hervey is now cancer-free, and says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok followers.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say. I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.” She has graciously agreed to allow SurvivorNet to use her content in order to help our community.
So while sharing your story for thousands of YouTubers might not be your thing, it’s important to consider opening up to others about your struggles during a cancer battle. Even if it’s with a smaller group, you never know how much the support can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.