Editor's note: A previous version of this story listed incorrect dates and location for the 2012 Lincoln County Relay for Life event. The event is June 8-9 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
Mary Ann May and Judy Atwood Jones are both breast cancer survivors, but they have very different stories of dealing with it.
May's story begins with a routine mammogram in the spring of 1996.
"My doctor called me back (after the mammogram) and said, 'we have a little problem,'" May said.
Thanks to the watchful eye of an expert radiologist, doctors had caught the beginnings of a common type of cancer.
"I have never met that radiologist, but I believe I owe him a huge thank-you," May said.
May's cancer was in such an early stage that she had many different options for how to deal with it, ranging from tissue removal to radiation treatments to a mastectomy.
In the end, May chose to undergo 30 radiation treatments, which proved successful in eliminating the cancer.
"I almost refused to have my mammogram that spring," she said. "I shudder to think what would have happened if I had not done that."
Jones' story shows just how dramatically different cancer stories can be. In November of 1998, she found a lump in her right breast.
"Really it was more than a lump, it was very large mess," she said.
The lump had grown so rapidly in such a short period of time doctors thought it couldn't be cancer, but they went ahead with a biopsy two weeks later to make sure. In that two weeks, the lump — which proved to be an aggressive cancer classified as infiltrating lobular cancer — continued to grow even more.
In dealing with her cancer, Jones participated in cutting-edge research programs studying new methods for treating cancer.
"Sentinel node" research allowed doctors to use a radioactive dye to pinpoint cancerous areas and limit how much tissue would have to be removed.
Jones also participated in a clinical trial of a stem cell transplant method aimed at women with particularly aggressive breast cancer.
Jones underwent chemotherapy and a successful stem cell transplant.
She was prepared to be bedridden in the hospital for up to six months afterward, but made a stupendous recovery and was able to go home in just a couple weeks.
After 35 radiation treatments spanning all of 1999, Jones was successful in defeating the vicious opponent of cancer.