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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Early detection is key to fighting cancer

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wanda Koelling
When you meet Wanda Koelling she is upbeat and friendly.

And whether its work-related business, serving on the Salem School Board or running after her two children -- MaKollie and Kullins -- as they play ball and cheerlead, Koelling is always on the go.

It seems not much can get her down, and in fact, she's proved that not much can.

In April 2004 Koelling went to her doctor and had a yearly mammogram. She wasn't sick; she hadn't been tired or weak; she expected the doctor visit to be nothing more than a regular check up. However, after that doctor's visit, her life was forever changed -- she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Thank goodness for mammograms. The cancer was in microcalcifications," she said. "So by the time I would have been able to detect it myself, (the cancer) would've been full blown.

Koelling wasted no time as she began her fight against the disease. She went to Mountain Home for a biopsy.

In June 2004, Koelling had a mastectomy. "I'm lucky, the cancer was found very early; it was localized to one specific area -- a part of my body I didn't need," Koelling said. "For me, removing my breast wasn't a hard decision to make."

Koelling said the cancer wasn't all bad. "It really helped (my family) to grow closer, and my kids were so supportive," she said. "In honor of my cancer, MaKollie grew her hair and donated it to Locks of Love.

Through it all, Koelling said she came out a stronger person. "After realizing you can survive something like this, you find strength you didn't know was there," she said.

Surviving cancer also influenced Koelling to become a sounding voice in cancer research. Every year, she and her family goes to Little Rock to participate in the Race for a Cure, and she is active in the local Relay for Life activities.

Without research funded by relay for life members, Koelling's outcome could have been bleak. "Thank goodness for early detection. Because of our technology I didn't have to go through chemo. I was able to find (the cancer) and get rid of it before it had a chance to spread."

All those who have been touched by cancer or who, like Koelling, have beaten the disease, are encouraged to attend Fulton County's Relay for Life at 6 p.m. at the Greyhound Stadium June 1.

All cancer survivors are welcome to attend the event as guests of honor.

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