Editor's Note: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world's largest support group for survivors. Communities across the country come together every year to hold more than 5,200 Relay For Life events in celebration of those continuing to fight and those who have won. In honor of Mifflin-Juniata's 20th Annual Relay For Life, local survivors are reaching out to the community with their own stories. Georgianna Buchanan, of Belleville, shares her survivor story:
"In June of 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. No one wants to hear those words from their doctor, but now that I had, I needed to decide how to deal with it. I took the news fairly well, but my husband and youngest daughter had to be consoled.
"My first thoughts were about my two daughters and I wanted to protect them as much as any mother can. My older daughter is mentally challenged and I told her the least amount possible. When I went for surgery in July, I told her that I needed an operation for an infection. I had a mastectomy and some involvement in the lymph nodes.
"After the surgery, I had everything scanned - my heart, my bones, the sentinel lymph node - and had a PET Scan to see if there was cancer elsewhere in my body. Toward the end of September, I began an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. The doctors promised me that I would not get sick and I didn't. I did, however, have bone pain from my shoulder blades to my toes and each time the pain started to subside, it was time for another treatment.
"After my second treatment, I met some of my friends and we went away for three days on a quilting retreat. They were surprised that I could do something like that. They took good care of me. Though they didn't want to join 'the sisterhood' of breast cancer survivors, they prayed for me during recovery. My quilting friends are very special people to me, with big hearts and bright smiles.
"During my treatment, I tried to work half days, but people came into my office with colds and the flu and I was susceptible to all of it. I decided to stay home until my treatments were finished. I went back to work in January 2008 and did not miss another day until I retired in April 2011.
"I continued receiving six weeks of radiation treatments until April 2008. I still deal with the after effects in my fingers and feet. I also have lymphodema and have to be very careful with my arm. I had to visit my surgeon once a year for five years until, in May 2012, he considered me a survivor.
"I feel healthy and grateful to be cancer free. It's not an easy road to walk, but my mantra is you need 'faith, family and friends' beside you when you do. Our friends and family brought meals, flowers and fruit baskets. I received so many cards filled with well wishes. One card had an analogy that said it was too bad life doesn't have a remote control to fast forward through the bad times. That one really sticks with me.
"Being cancer free has allowed me to attend my daughter's wedding in June 2009. I also became a very proud grandmother of our little Noelle who was born in December 2012.
"Each year, I attend the Pink Zone Basketball Game at Penn State with my family. I also create small quilted items which are given to survivors during Relay for Life. Last year, I was asked to carry the torch for Relay for Life. I was so honored.
"As of February 2009, there were 103,000 women in Pennsylvania with breast cancer. There are a lot of other cancers out there, so that number could be tripled at least. I hope they find a cure in my lifetime for all the children of survivors and any future patients.
"Celebrate each day! Count your blessings and know that God has given you the blessing of life."