Best Friends, Police Dispatchers United by Breast Cancer

Two friends who are also co-workers share something else in common – they are both breast cancer survivors.

There have been girls’ trips to Vegas; weekends browsing at garage sales; and lots of shared family birthday parties. Michelle Coy and Traci Cox have enjoyed many years of friendship. They’ve also shared something else – both were diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was July 21, 2008 when Cox received her diagnosis. She had been feeling some pain in her armpit and went to the doctor for a check up. First there was a mammogram and then a biopsy that confirmed breast cancer. Under the care of IU Health hematologist/oncologist Dr. Danielle Doyle, Cox went through treatments that included chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. She was 40.

“I had 35 lymph nodes removed and cancer was in 33 of them. They guessed I’d been walking around with it for a while. I was lucky it was slow growing,” said Cox. She met Coy when she became a dispatcher for the Johnson County Public Safety 911. Their friendship has continued for more than two decades. When Cox was diagnosed, Coy made phone calls to family and friends and helped organize fundraisers with co-workers.

“Her face was one of the last I saw when I rolled into surgery,” said Cox. 

In October 2016, Cox was there when her friend received the same news. Coy had gone for a wellness exam when a lump was detected. She was 52. Sixteen weeks of chemotherapy and eight weeks of radiation followed.

Cox gave her friend a t-shirt that read: “Cancer, You’ve Picked the Wrong Girl.” More than anything Cox was there for her. She knew what she was going through.

“Traci was my rock because I knew she’d gone through a horrible time,” said Coy. “I often went to her with questions about medication or concerns like when I was so tired.” Cox’s response to her friend was: “You’ll be fine.”

Both women graduated from Franklin High School; their daughters were born two weeks apart; and they’ve celebrated weddings and birthdays together. They both started working as dispatchers for Johnson County Public Safety within a few years of each other.

“We’re here doing this job, responding to calls because we like to help people and we like to make a difference,” said Coy. “I was in shock when I got the news and I’m glad I had Traci to help me through – she made a difference.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health. 
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.