The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. October is breast cancer awareness month.
Brigett Jones-Clemons thought it was an ordinary pain.
"I had pulled a muscle, so I let it go. I felt pain under my arm and in my shoulder," said Jones-Clemons.
Months later, she went to the doctor.
"The tumor had grown from the size of a pencil eraser when first found three weeks earlier, to a size of a tennis ball," remarked Jones-Clemons.
It would be an uphill battle.
"I had no choice but to lose the entire breast and to undergo the most gruesome forms of chemo," she said.
But she held on. And now two years later, she is encouraging other women to be proactive. She shared her message at Tuesday's Think Pink luncheon in McDowell, organized to promote awareness of both breast cancer and domestic violence.
A message community leaders said is needed.
"I think women are not aware of exactly the issues and what can happen, and I think it's important to get the message to them early," said Mandy Stumbo of the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce, who sponsored Tuesday's event.
Jones-Clemons said she will not let cancer define her or keep her from living life.
"You learn how to put that makeup on again. You learn how to fix your eyebrows when you don't have any eyebrows. You learn how to put a wig on when you've never had to put a wig on," she remarked with a triumphant grin.
She said it comes down to taking life's chances.
"I went para-sailing. I've done the bungee jump thing. There's things I've wanted to do all my life, and I've always held myself back. Now I do it when I want to do it," said Jones-Clemons.
Although rare, breast cancer can affect men. Men between the ages of 60 and 70 are more at risk for developing the disease.
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