Corona del Mar's UPS driver, Athena Lewis, is recovering from surgery for breast cancer but hopes to return to work in the new year. (Amy Senk / November 19, 2011)

Corona del Mar's UPS driver Athena Lewis is recovering from surgery for breast cancer, but hopes to return to work in the new year.

"That's my route," Lewis said in an interview from Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. "That belongs to me. They can't give that away."

Lewis said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, but a lumpectomy did not succeed in getting rid of the cancer. She was tested for the cancer gene because of a family history, and when it was positive, she elected to undergo a double mastectomy.

Her surgery was Monday. In about eight weeks, she said she will have more surgery and plans to return to work when she is fully recovered. Her last day at work was Oct. 3.

"I'm doing great," she said. "I have a very positive attitude and outlook."

Her sister brought her a shirt that says "Fight Like A Girl," and she said that Corona del Mar residents on her delivery route of 25 years have been calling and sending her cards and well wishes.

"I love them," she said. "And they may love me enough to get a mammogram. They may love Athena enough to get a prostate exam."

She said she had no symptoms or pain until a routine mammogram detected the cancer.

"You need to do it," she said, adding that so far 22 of her friends have had cancer screenings at her request.

Lewis said she would love to hear from friends and asked them to call or text her at (951) 314-0937.

amy@coronadelmartoday.com

Twitter: @coronadelmartdy