CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and News4Jax is putting a spotlight on survivors’ stories and messages of hope. This comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his wife, Casey, had been diagnosed.
Clay County Detention Deputy Cortney Altstatt not only knows this battle but she’s conquered it. She survived stage 3 breast cancer, and openly shared her journey to healing with the community.
At the Clay County detention facility, Deputy Cortney Altstatt is all business and laser-focused. But this month, she’s proud to sport plenty of pink, smiles, and giggles.
“Like I told you, I have a tattoo!,” Deputy Alstatt chuckled. “For the breast cancer ribbon!”
To think, her journey started in October 2018, when she was just 27 years old. She recalls feeling some pain and immediately did a self-examination.
“I don’t know what came over me. I think it’s the big man upstairs that told me I needed to do something,” Deputy Altstatt said. “I checked, and I was like, ‘was it that?’ It felt like a bouncy ball.”
She then got the news that changed her life. She remembers being at work when she received the call that she had been diagnosed. The prognosis was grim--she had stage 3 breast cancer.
“And I kept putting stuff on the back burner. ‘Oh, I’ll do this later; oh I’ll do this later,’” Deputy Altstatt said. “Once I found out about that, I was like, ‘What can I do to save my life?’”
Deputy Alstatt chose to fight. And fight hard. She underwent chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation therapy, and reconstructive surgery. While the treatment was grueling, Deputy Altstatt had the support of family, friends, the Clay County sheriff’s department, and citizens throughout the community.
In July 2019, she was declared cancer-free. Even then, the journey after cancer was strict. Every month, she had to receive estrogen blocker shots and see her doctor every 3 months.
Knowing so many rallied behind her, Deputy Altstatt now supports other women and advises them to find their support system and be their own advocate.
“Reach out to people,” Deputy Altstatt said. “If you don’t know what this breast cancer is about, you’re going to learn. I didn’t know much about it myself.”
Deputy Altstatt now participates in “Mud Girl” runs for breast cancer fighters. Once stalled by her diagnosis and treatment, Altstatt is now working toward her professional goals. She aims to become a field training officer and sergeant within the sheriff’s office. More than anything, she has a message of support for women going through this. Including Florida’s first lady, Casey DeSantis.
“You got this. you’re strong. We’re women, we got this,” Deputy Altstatt said. “We’re amazing people and you’re going to get through it. And I know you will. I’ll be praying for you, for sure.”
To this day, Deputy Altstatt still goes through a lot because of her diagnosis. She says a couple of months ago, she underwent a full hysterectomy. She says it was needed due to her medications possibly putting her at risk of ovarian cancer.
Overall, she says women going through this need to find their support system, and she’s behind them all the way.