By Shristi Shrestha
Her whole world fell apart when Mary Halsell, a resident of Pecan Gap, a city 20 miles away from Commerce, was diagnosed with lumpectomy, a most common form of breast cancer in September of 1975.
One in 35 women die of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), making it the second leading cause of death in women after lung cancer.
“I cried a lot and felt sad for myself,” confessed Halsell, 65 when asked what her reaction was when she was first diagnosed with cancer. “Today I feel good. After 32 1/2 years, it feels wonderful to be alive. It was a supportive doctor who helped me through it. My doctor and prayer kept me alive,” she added.
Halsell, then living in North Dakota, went through six months of radiation, which was then called “cobalt.”
“Thinking positive, never looking down and looking up is important. My doctor told me you cannot undo the damage that has been made but can look ahead, so look up and be positive. I thank him everyday for it.” said Halsell, a cancer survivor.
According to ACS, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in United States.
Halsell believes cancer research is extremely important for the cure of cancer, including breast cancer.
“Research is more positive today,” she said. “If we keep helping in the research effort, I’m certain we would find a cure.”
Halsell has lost her father, a sister and a brother to cancer.
She has been participating in the Relay for Life event at Texas A&M; University-Commerce in her effort to help other cancer patients. The event recently won second place in the per capita funds raised collegiate event category for 2007 at the American Cancer Society’s High Plains Division Leadership Summit.
“It makes me feel good to help and keep giving some hope,” said Halsell.
She is on the Relay for Life committee for luminaries. A luminary is a lit candle inside a paper bag in recognition of cancer patients. She won the recognition for number one overall fund raising individual at the event last year. She and her husband, Red Halsell, have been participating in the event since its initiation five years ago.
According to a university press release, the 2008 Relay for Life event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, at the university’s Memorial Stadium. This year’s Relay for Life theme is “Relay around the World.” Teams will be encouraged to pick a country, region or ancient civilization and decorate their camp sites accordingly. Teams will also have the opportunity to represent their chosen area through food and costumes.