Your strength and openness have been a blessing to so many women in northeast Oklahoma, and I know you have been blessed for sharing the way you have. Your sense of humor is very much appreciated....laughter truly is a good medicine.

My story is not quite as typical as yours, but I am happy to share it.

I have become a strong advocate of a woman checking her breasts regularly for anything that seems "different." So many women say they wouldn't know if there was a lump, but if we are very familiar with our bodies, we will feel an abnormality. I discovered a lump over a year ago and went through the channels to have it properly evaluated. It was Invasive Mucinous Carcinoma, a rare type of breast cancer, but a slow-growing type. Because I have Lupus, a lumpectomy with radiation was not a good option, so I had a skin-sparing mastectomy performed on February 8, 2007. The first phase of reconstruction was started at the same time. The cancer had not spread to lymph nodes, so chemo was not necessary. That was the part I had prayed most about; I could handle losing a breast (at 57 I didn't think I needed it for anything important anyway), but I wanted to avoid the treatments if at all possible. God honored our prayers, and I thank Him every day.

Reconstruction is a tedious process, and I have had a minor complication requiring an additional surgery (making three in eight months), but soon all of that will be behind me.

Since the tumor was estrogen-receptive positive, I have been on an anti-hormone treatment since surgery. I can't say that part has been without problems, but I hope to continue with a drug of this type for the recommended five years.

I don't know how a woman goes through a challenge of this kind without the support of family, friends, and, most importantly, God. I learned for the first time what is meant by "the peace that passes understanding," for the "old me" would not have been able to deal with cancer the way God helped me to do it.

May God bless any woman going through this!