Nicole Matlock and her mom, Diane, are best friends. There aren’t any secrets between the two of them. So, when Diane called Nicole in September, Nicole immediately could tell that something was wrong. You see, Diane had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
To that point, there hadn’t been any inkling of anything being wrong. Diane went in for what she expected to be a routine mammogram, but it turned out to be a devastating blow.
“They said it was just stage three, in her breast and her lymph nodes on her left side,” Nicole said. “But after the PET scan, it showed that it was actually stage four. It had moved to her lungs and her liver and her bones.”
Since Diane’s diagnosis, Nicole and her family have rallied around her mom. T-shirts have been ordered, emblazoned with “Mom’s Prayer Warrior,” and “Team Diane: Fighting for a Cure,” family portraits have been taken, and Diane was even baptized.
Diane and her husband, Albert, are even renewing their vows after 33 years of marriage.
“I used to work in a flower shop before dentistry,” Nicole said. “So, I made her a silk bouquet, and one for me, too. She wasn’t expecting it, but every bride deserves to carry flowers down the aisle.”
Nicole will be her mom’s primary caregiver during her treatment and chemotherapy. And while Nicole has rallied to support her mom, her work family at Dental Depot South OKC has stepped up to make sure she has the strength she needs, too.
“Everyone at Dental Depot has been so supportive,” Nicole said. “Between Mari, Kali, Melissa and Sara, and Mona. They’re encouraging me and sending good thoughts and prayers my way. They tell me, every day, they’re thinking about my mom.”
Every last ounce of support and determination will count towards getting Diane through treatment, too.
“[The doctors] are going to try, but their word was, ‘incurable,’” Nicole said. “But we’re at a great place, the Stevenson Cancer Center — that’s where Melissa told me to go.”
Nicole has been able to schedule Diane’s appointments on her day off of work. Even chemo is set for those days, so they can get through it together.
“I could tell she wanted me to go with her, but she didn’t want to ask,” Nicole said. “I just told her I was going and that she didn’t need to ask. So far, I’ve been to everything but the PET scan.”
Throughout this process, Nicole and Diane have gotten closer, but her relationship with her mom isn’t the only relationship that’s grown from this experience.
“I can definitely see my dad and I getting closer throughout this experience,” Nicole said. “When it feels like we can’t be as strong as we want to be — especially in front of her — we turn to each other.”
Nicole’s uncle has also become a steadfast support. He’s a monk at St. Gregory’s and was responsible for organizing Diane’s baptism and is helping organize the renewal of Albert and Diane’s vows.
“He’s been a huge support because he’s also going through colon cancer. They got all of his [cancer] but he’s still going through chemo,” Nicole explained. “But his background — his faith — has definitely helped all of us, especially my mom, with coping and getting through the days.”
Breast cancer isn’t new to her family. Her grandmother beat breast cancer 13 years ago and now with her mother’s diagnosis, Nicole is as vigilant as ever about her own health. While Nicole is too young for mammograms, she’s working with her physician to make sure they stay aware of any concerns for her health.
“The last time I went to the doctor I had told them about my grandma,” Nicole said. “… We’re going to start with genetic testing, so I can stay on top of it. That’s one thing my husband stays on top of me about. His stepmom had it so he’s seen what it’s done. She survived, but he’s been amazing throughout this whole thing.”
And the timing of Nicole’s being named Employee of the Month for October — being Breast Cancer Awareness Month — wasn’t lost on her.
“What a great time to be named Employee of the Month,” Nicole said. “It’s that awareness month and everybody is coming out to be supportive. My mom was really excited for me.”
We asked Nicole for the best advice her mom had given her, and not surprisingly, it’s become her motto for getting them through this diagnosis:
“Just take it one day at a time,” Nicole said. “Don’t try to make life go too fast, just live in the moment.”
From all of us at Dental Depot, we hope for the best possible outcome for Diane and will continue to support Nicole through this difficult time.
Nicole is a dental assistant at our South OKC office and works with Drs. Henry and Attar, and worked previously with Dr. Polk. She’s been part of the Dental Depot team since January 2017 when she completed dental assisting school.
She enjoys spending time with her husband of three years, Michael, and their five dogs at home. They love watching movies together, especially superhero ones. When she’s spending time with her mom, they enjoy shopping and crafting.
Nicole was nominated for Employee of the Month by her coworkers at Dental Depot South OKC.
“She is a hard worker and takes care of each patient as a priority, all her patients love her and she always has a smile on her face!”
“Nicole is an amazing employee! She cares for each patient, and makes them feel comfortable when they come into the office.”
“Nicole always goes above and beyond to help out! She always has a positive attitude!”
“Nicole is always a positive influence in the office. Her positive attitude is contagious and she always has a smile on her face.”
Dental Depot is a locally owned and operated family company. As such, we believe that the incredible group of doctors, hygienists, assistants and staff that make up Dental Depot are more than their job titles; they’re members of our extended family. In our family, we like to recognize when someone goes above and beyond, living the Dental Depot values. This October, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Nicole Matlock.