Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to sit down with Lois Zebre, a lifelong resident of Rock Springs.
Lois was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and after about a six month battle, she became cancer free. Even though October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is over, Lois has a piece advice for everyone– get your annual mammograms and check ups.
Lois is a very friendly person with a lot of friends, who she enjoys playing bridge and golf with. She is a family-oriented person, and her kids will all happily tell you how great of a mother she is. Lois greets everyone with kindness and carries herself with warmth and humbleness. Speaking for myself, it was a pleasure getting to know her.
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Lois, how did you end up in Rock Springs?
I was born and raised here. Then I met my first husband here, and we married here, and he was in the ranching business. He died very young at the age 41 of colon cancer. I remarried, the kids went to school here, and you know, I just never left. My husband has a law practice here now. I enjoy living here, I’ve got a lot of friends.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Rock Springs throughout the year?
Coal mining was big when I was growing up, my father was a coal miner. Then when the mine shut down, it was sort of a ghost town at that point, and then the oil and gas came in. When that dropped off, the power plant came and there was a big boom. That employed a lot of people.
What kind of work have you done?
Mostly secretarial work and I was the receptionist at what was Mountain Fuel at the time. It’s now Questar.
You’re a breast cancer survivor. Can you tell me a bit about your battle?
I was diagnosed in 2003, and my cancer was found by a routine annual mammogram. I was told at the time that there were masses in both breasts. My doctors had a hard time finding the cancer it was just very small, about the size of a pea.
They figured I could just have a lumpectomy and wouldn’t require any treatment after that. When I had the surgery, they found that the left breast was benign, and the tumor was in the right breast. They found out that the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes, and they removed 14 lymph nodes. They didn’t know if that was all of it, but they decided they couldn’t do any more surgery.
At that point, it was diagnosed as Stage 4.
My surgeon had the option to do a second surgery and remove the entire breast, or I could go through treatments. So they decided to have me do chemotherapy and radiation.
I was on a 16-week treatment of chemotherapy, every other week. They did the first treatment in Salt Lake and then I was able to do the rest of it in Rock Springs.
I had been through about 16 days of treatment when I started losing my hair, and that was probably the most traumatic part. When it started falling out I called my daughter and told her to bring the clippers and she and I both just cried. It started growing back in during the Spring.
I also qualified for a clinical study, which was funded by the military and I found that quite interesting. That was an 18-day, continual treatment. The medication would change every six days.
When it came time for radiation, they didn’t do radiation in Rock Springs, so I could choose between Cheyenne, Casper, and Salt Lake. Since my daughter lives in Cheyenne, I went there for six weeks.
I had my first chemo treatment the week before Thanksgiving and I finished radiation on Memorial Day weekend, so it was about six months.
I’ve been cancer free for 16 years now. All I can say is how very important it is to get a mammogram every year.
What are some of your hobbies?
I like to play bridge and play golf. I’ll keep playing those until I get them right.
And I spend time with friends.
I’m also a big NBA fan. A big Laker fan. I’ll keep watching them until they get it right, too.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I think I just like the friendliness of our community and the people who are here.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
I don’t know if I’m capable of giving only one piece of advice.
I guess, all the kids were raised with the golden rule, which came from my mother who just took everyone at face value and was very kind. And that rule was just to treat people like you want to be treated. I think that’s the main thing. Put yourself in someone else’s place.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
The Outlaw for bridge, and the golf course is always fun.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
I think I would probably say walk. I don’t know about riding a horse- that ship has sailed also. And the bicycle…
What would you sing at karaoke night?
I really like the folk music era, so probably something from there.
How would your friends describe you?
I think you’d probably have to ask them.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
I don’t think I’ve been a half-bad mother. We also did have a lot of family illnesses along the road, and I was a caretaker for them. My mother was bedridden in our house for four years. But, I learned from the master- my mother was a very kind and unique person.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
I’m not really sure. We may have to audition a few people I guess.
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
At this stage of my life, I probably better. It’s just home.