Ina Rooks
I am a wife, mom, grandmother and a cancer survivor. My journey with breast cancer began in March 2004, when a routine mammogram showed an abnormality, later found to be malignant. I underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, followed by chemotherapy. At that time in my life, my priorities were my family, a part time job, and taking classes at a local college. I wanted to have the surgery and get back to my priorities, but God had another plan for me. My recovery and chemotherapy were exhausting. I drew strength from the prayers of my friends and family and my faith in God. I Corinthians 12:10 says, "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

While undergoing chemotherapy, I became acquainted with Pam Fox, a member of Steel Magnolias Breast Cancer Support Group. It amazed me how knowledgeable she was about her treatment for cancer. This was her second battle with cancer. Because of Pam and Chris, my chemo nurse, I decided to attend a meeting of the Steel Magnolias.

My first meeting was the July 27, 2004, Steel Magnolias New Beginning Banquet. I learned a lot about breast cancer and treatment options. I also learned I suffered from Lymph edema, a condition where an abnormal buildup of lymph fluid causes swelling, most often in the arms and legs.

Because of damage of the lymph nodes in the lymph nodes of my chest wall, my pain was in the underarm, back and chest area of my surgical side. I was referred to a certified lymphatic massage therapist, trained in lymph drainage. Following lymph edema drainage by a professional, Lymph edema can be managed with self massage and exercise. I was so grateful to find out what caused my pain.

Helping others by being part of Steel Magnolias has made me a stronger person. Surviving breast cancer has changed my life in a positive way. God has blessed me with many friends, family and supporters. Because of that, I like to pass on to other cancer patients.

Ina Rooks