October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It serves as my reminder that women shouldn’t ignore this deadly disease that can really creep up on you.

I haven’t experienced the disease, but my mother has. Her experience alone will always keep me on my toes.

In 1997, my mother joined a womens’ health research study. While participating, an irregularity was detected through mammography.

My mom immediately called her doctor. The doctor conducted more tests and then spoke the words nobody wants to hear.

‘You have cancer.’

Her mother died of lung cancer and from that experience she knew she couldn’t just lie down and die. Being the woman she is, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and engaged in the battle with the beast.

The doctor gave her two options: a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. She chose the mastectomy in order to provide the best chance of defeating the beast.

I can vividly remember the day of the surgery. Not once did she think about dying. Our family was more afraid than she was and the surgery lasted for seven hours. She went into surgery laughing and came out of surgery sleeping. But when she awakened — she had a huge smile on her face and said, “I WON!”

By all rights, my mother should be one of those people that lies down and dies from despair. She lost her mother, father, brother, and sister at an early age. Years later, tragedy was to strike again. She lost her 16-year-old son, the most heartbreaking event of all.

Currently, she cares for my oldest sister on a daily basis, who is mentally and physically challenged.

My mother’s life should be an inspiration for someone diagnosed with breast cancer.

“God did this for a purpose and you are going to have to go through some struggles, but in the long and short of it all, it makes you look at life in a different way. It was a challenge for me, too. I wanted to beat the beast, and I did,” she would say to those recently stricken.

Every woman should take advantage of all technology available to prevent the beast called “breast cancer.” Next Thursday, will be the fourth annual women’s luncheon and seminar, “The Power of Pink,” at City Hall at City Limits. If you have never attended this event — you don’t want to miss it. The cost is only $10 for life saving information, lunch, and a gift bag. The event is sponsored by Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital and by calling 254-965-8403 a reservation can be made.

Also, to help an underprivileged woman in this great nation receive a free mammogram, go to http://www.thebreastcancersite.com. It only takes a minute to go to the site and click on ‘donate a mammogram.’

Rochelle Stidham is the Publisher of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 225.