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‘I finished chemo today!’ breast cancer survivor finds life improvement at Lowe’s

Posted at 12:35 AM, Dec 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-24 10:07:38-05

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- These days we frequently hear stories about businesses being grinches about hiring full-time employees, trying to avoid paying for health care and other benefits.

Not in this case.

"I'm 27 years old," said Savanna Martin of Mechanicsville. "I have three kids, an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old a 2-year-old.”

Savanna Martin and her daughter

Savanna Martin and her daughter

"I put in an application because we were looking for a job for me. I had stayed home for four years with my kids."

Savanna had worked five years earlier at a Lowe's Home Improvement store, but was applying at a different one, #247 at 8001 Brook Road just north of Richmond.

Mark Bowers is a store manager there.

"After the interview process," Bowers said, "we felt she would be the best suited for our team here at (store) 247."

But that good news didn't get to sink in long for the young mom in need of work.

"After I had my interview," Martin recalled, "I got the call saying that the lump they had previously told me wasn't cancer was cancer."

It was breast cancer.

Savanna Martin and her daughter

Savanna Martin and her daughter

"And so I drove back to Lowe's, I said I know I don't have to tell you, but I want you to have full disclosure, that if you hire me, this is what you're signing up for."

That didn't change things with Bowers and the others running store 247.

"I do recall letting her know that, hey that's OK," Bowers said. "If you're the best individual for the job, we're going to bring you on board."

Martin works as an installation sales coordinator, acting as a go-between for the customers and the contractors installing carpet, tile, roofing, etc.

After starting her new job, she had double-mastectomy surgery, followed by 22 weeks of chemotherapy.

So she missed plenty of days of work?

"Not many," Bowers said. She frequently just missed an hour or two of work when she was getting her chemo, he added.

Mark Bowers

Mark Bowers

Martin said not only was management supportive, her fellow associates also rallied around her, helping her through the foggy spots that she calls "chemo brain."

CBS 6 met with her Wednesday afternoon as she gathered with other family at her mom's house, partly celebrating a graduation day of sorts.

"I finished chemo today!" she sang.

Back of Lowe's, the crew had also gotten word.

"I'm so grateful for that, so grateful," Bowers said. "What else could you ask for, a couple days before Christmas, the last chemo treatment?"

He said they try to foster a sense of family, fairness and common good. It makes them a better team, he said.

There are two important things Martin wanted to share about her seven-month journey.

"It's so important to be your own advocate" with your breast health, she said. "Check yourself, go to the doctor, especially for women under 50 or 40. You have to look for yourself. I found mine on my own. I was told it wasn't cancer. I asked them to check again and it was cancer. And because of that I get to see my kids grow up."

And the other thing:

"They say the bad times bring out some of the best in people," Martin said. "And the last seven months have been a good example of that."