DALLAS – Channel 8 viewers recently had an opportunity to see cancer from a very different perspective. Dallas Hope, a three part documentary series from Baylor Health Care System, followed three patients as they battled cancer.
One of those patients was Michelle Berndt. Berndt’s mother, grandmother and great grandmother all had breast cancer. Berndt underwent genetic testing to see if she had the same gene that causes it.
So she decided to have her breasts removed. But two weeks before the surgery, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"If you don't have hope, cancer can take the best of you and it will," said Berndt. "It will take you down."
At first Berndt didn't want cameras to intrude on her very personal cancer battle. But she decided to become a part of the documentary, hoping it would have an impact.
But it wasn't easy, especially when chemotherapy began taking its toll on her, leaving her hospitalized with high fever and a dangerously weakened immune system.
"Lately I've wanted to give up," said Berndt in the documentary, lay in a hospital bed. "I only have three treatments left. But I'm just at the point I can't do it anymore."
Her husband, Stephen Berndt, also approved of their participation in the series.
"It was tough having a camera right beside you at those moments when you didn't want them there."
Michelle says she felt like she was dying. But she stayed committed to the documentary, and found hope.
"I got really down and I thought, you know what, how am I supposed to preach to other people you can get through this, if I'm not getting through it," she said. "And so, I had to pick myself up and realize you're going to get through this, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if you don't trek forward, you're not going to reach that light."
Michelle Berndt finally heard the two words every cancer patients hopes to hear: "cancer free". And with that prognosis, she went from patient to survivor, hoping her journey will give hope to others.