Two women who battled cancer were among volunteers who worked at a yard sale April 24 at the Fulton County Hospital and Health Unit to raise money for the Relay for Life, an event which is held annually to generate funds for cancer research.
Both women decided to tell their stories of how they survived cancer.
Pam Miller, 47, of Camp, an employee who works in central supply at the hospital, had breast cancer and underwent surgery for a mastectomy Sept. 13 of last year after a biopsy revealed she had cancer.
Miller said she is doing well but she has to take chemotherapy for the next five years. She travels to Little Rock every three months to have her blood checked at the cancer center.
She said a lump the size of a dime was discovered when she was scheduled for surgery to have a hysterectomy last year.
Miller is on her fourth week back to work after being off for a seven-month recovery after the surgery.
Her lump was in a position that could not be found during a self-breast exam, she noted.
Part of her treatment included six chemotherapy treatments starting in November which made her sick. Each treatment was given in three week intervals. She said even after doctors gave her additional medicine to help with the nausea she would still become ill.
Miller is part of a program called Breast Care to help low income women keep up with mammograms and annual checkups.
Miller has some words of advice: "Get a mammogram."
Not only is Miller a cancer survivor, but she also lost her father to lung cancer in 1996.
Carolyn Seago of Salem has three things in common with Miller; she too is a cancer survivor, she also works at the hospital in the housekeeping department, and she lost a family member to the disease.
Seago survived cancer not once, but twice. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1990. After a medical procedure was performed for a cone biopsy she was cancer free, she thought, until 1997 when it reoccurred, which led to a complete hysterectomy.
In 1990 Seago was pregnant when the cancer was discovered after results from a pap smear came back abnormal.
Seago recalled her mother died in 1993 of colon cancer. She said, "I got off lucky."
Seago, a single mother of four children, said she left her husband in 1998 because of physical abuse he inflicted upon her and the children.
The advice she would like to relay to women is: "Have regular pap smears and mammograms. Get a physical every year." She added there are enough agencies around to help women afford those services. She said lack of money is just an excuse not to seek medical treatment.
Joyce Perkins, an LPN at the hospital, said she appreciated both women working for this cause. Perkins lost a brother in September of last year to pancreatic cancer.
Perkins said the hospital is selling chances on a king sized quilt and the winner will be drawn May 1. Proceeds from the sale will go to the American Cancer Society.
Wanda Koelling, public health nurse and clinic coordinator at the Fulton County Health Unit, said she encourages everyone to attend the Relay for Life event held June 21 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m at the Salem High School baseball field.
The Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's national signature event to generate awareness about the disease and to raise funds to support cancer research, including prevention and early detection programs.
She said the event kicks off with cancer survivors taking the first laps around the field. She said some even attend the relay in wheelchairs. She said, "This is for a good cause and we're proud to be a part of this."