"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
Know your body. Know your faith. Denise Lounsberry, 50, says such awareness may have saved her life.
In September 2009, the wife and mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Denise found a lump in her breast through self examination that wasn't detected by a mammogram months earlier.
She immediately sprang into action and consulted a surgeon. That was a Tuesday, the lump was surgically removed the following Friday. As the fog of the anesthesia began to lift, Denise heard the words every woman dreads.
"When I woke up, the doctor informed me I had cancer," Denise said.
The Big C...
"It was difficult," she added. "I heard the words, but part of me didn't believe it."
With an upbeat attitude and a twinge of disbelief, Denise mentally prepared herself for an all-out attack on the disease.
"I just looked at the doctor and asked, 'Okay, what's next?' The following week I had surgery. Then chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy.
"You have to have your faith," Denise said. "A particular scripture - Jeremiah 29:11 - helped me through. Every time I walked by the refrigerator, where it was hanging, I touched it and told myself, 'Everything's going to be okay.'"
Under doctor's orders, Denise was forced to give up a new job as a kindergarten aide at Glen Rose ISD almost as soon as the school year began.
"Chemotherapy lowers your immunities, so the doctor said it wasn't a good idea for me to be around children," she said.
Focused on healing, Denise admits she went into seclusion.
"I really did shut out," she said, adding that all changed one day when she crossed paths with Jerry Prather, owner of Kwik Kar.
Jerry asked what she was doing and offered Denise a job managing the office at the automotive shop. He offered her an upstairs office, where she could avoid the risk of interacting with the public.
"He gave me a new purpose," Denise said. "It's so easy to start feeling sorry for yourself, but you can't. You have to keep fighting. You have to keep living your life."
In support of Denise and other patients and breast cancer survivors, Kwik Kar is selling pink windshield wiper blades throughout the month of October to raise funds for breast cancer research.
"A percentage of each sale will be donated to breast cancer research," Denise said. "And Jerry has agreed to donate an additional $1 for every blade sold to the 'Glen Rose Girls' - 10 women, including myself who will participate in The Susan G. Komen 3-day."
The The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a 60-mile, three-day journey Nov. 2-4 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Each participant is required to raise $2,300, which is given to community outreach and education programs. For the Glen Rose Girls, that's a $23,000 investment, and one Denise believes is well spent.
For Denise, the fight against breast cancer spanned less than six months, and she says in the grand scheme of things, that isn't much.
She underwent her first round of chemotherapy on Nov. 3 - an anniversary she will celebrate alongside other survivors, patients and participants in the 3-day - and was done by the first part of March.
"When other people are facing the same thing, I tell them to look at the big picture," she said. "It's such a short period of time, it's only five months and you can do it!"
Denise did it.
"I have to go back to the doctor every three months to have blood work," she said. "I just did, and I am clear until December. I hope after that appointment, I will only have to go once every six months."