When champion barrel racer Angela Ganter of Abilene was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was certain of one thing: she had to survive to be there for her daughter.
In 2010, six years after her husband passed away, Angela found a lump under her arm that didn’t feel right. After an ultrasound, doctors removed the lymph node and confirmed it was cancer. She immediately called family friend and oncologist, Dr. Mark Holguin at Baylor Scott & White, who scheduled a consultation with her at the Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center in Temple.
Doctors identified the primary source of Mrs. Ganter’s cancer as her breast, although she’d had a clean mammogram just a few months earlier. Over the next seven years, Mrs. Ganter underwent nine surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I spent 24-7 trying to survive for my daughter,” Mrs. Ganter says. “I had to live no matter what because I couldn’t leave her without a parent.”
Mrs. Ganter owns Lone Star Stables, a ranch that breeds and trains horses for competition. Worried that her illness would cause her to lose business, she worked hard to live life normally. “I rode every day, I went to the barn to work while no one else was there, and I continued to race.”
Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but Mrs. Ganter was determined not to let that happen. “It’s a big deal for rodeo queens to have long hair,” she says. With some research, she learned about an ice cap system from England that prevents total hair loss by using dry ice to freeze a patient’s head. The cold air would close the hair follicles during infusions to help prevent hair loss. “Dr. Holguin and the entire staff were skeptical, but they were very accommodating of what I wanted to do. They wanted what I wanted, and they were in it with me,” Mrs. Ganter says. “I lost some, but not nearly all of my hair. They were all proud of every little hair on my head.”
Eventually, the intense treatment caught up with her and Mrs. Ganter had to stop riding. The long trek from Abilene to Temple and back every two weeks also took its toll, so her care team arranged to have part of her treatment done in Abilene. “But when I walked in there, it was just nothing like what I was used to at Baylor Scott & White,” she says. “I always say that second place is first loser, and I knew then that the Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center truly is first place. There really isn’t another place like it.”
“Through my husband’s illness and then my cancer journey, I have been to a lot of hospitals,” Mrs. Ganter says, “but I can unequivocally say that Baylor Scott & White was the best place for me. At the end of the day, it wasn’t just a hospital—it was family.”
Mrs. Ganter is now cancer-free. After a long year of training, she is also back to riding, this time alongside her daughter. Both recently qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, which comprises the top 12 barrel racers in the world. “I came back to do even better than I did before,” she says. “But more importantly, I get to watch and compete with my daughter.”
To find out how you can support life-saving cancer care for patients like Angela, contact Lori Luppino at 254-899-3771.