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Suzie Abell

Suzie Abell of Ralls has had cancer three times in her life, two times with breast cancer and the other time lung cancer. The first-time encountering cancer was in November of 1999 during an annual mammogram. A small spot was discovered, she immediately saw a surgeon who did a lumpectomy and removed the malignant spot. This was followed by “a bunch” of radiation treatments. Exactly ten years later in November of 2009, a bigger lump was discovered in her other breast and through a lumpectomy, it was removed. This time Suzie had both chemo and radiation, but miraculously she continued to work because it did not make her sick. The last cancer episode was in August of 2018 when during a regular checkup, an x-ray showed a spot on her left lung. She had smoked in the past but had quit smoking long before the spot was discovered. Her oncologist recommended that she see a surgeon that specialized in lungs and heart. After freezing the surrounding tissue, the specialist removed the bottom lobe of her left lung to capture all the cancer cells. It was a miracle that the cancer was contained in that lobe, and another miracle was that she did not feel pain. Spending six days in the hospital waiting for clear test results was the hardest part because she was feeling so good. 

She had peace throughout every cancer episode and knew that she was going to be all right. She said, “I knew I had to keep going, I could not give up.” Prayer sustained her, along with her children and her husband, Danny. Danny made her keep going, as well as all the kids and grandkids. Her kids are Mark Lambert, Misty Kesterson, Jeff Lambert, and Jason Lambert. Bonus kids are David Abell and Angie McDowell. 

Suzie grew up in Lubbock and moved to Ralls in 1968. She has an unusual story in that she has had two sets of twins, seven years apart, a fraternal set and an identical set! Suzie and Danny share 13 total grandkids and four great grandkids! They all were her best supporters! Suzie retired in 2013 and started piecing and quilting, making quilts as her hobby. She volunteers at church, and works with the South Plains Food Bank, serving as the manager for Ralls when the mobile pantry arrives in town. She also enjoys the twice weekly exercise group at the Methodist Church. Her best advice that she tries to live by daily is, “I just try to keep going. “

Kim Bristo

Kim Bristo is from Idalou and had breast cancer. In her own words, she tells her cancer story. In November 2004, I went to my annual gynecological appointment at the age of 40. I asked the doctor to check my breast as I had been waking up at night hurting. She did not find anything, and as I was checking out at the desk the receptionist asked if I needed to have a mammogram and asked how old I was and if I had ever had one. I had not had one, so scheduled me for an appointment. I am so fortunate that I advocated for myself to have the mammogram because a whirlwind ensued. They found something on the mammogram and scheduled me for an MRI, then a biopsy, then an appointment with an oncologist. I had a mass that was 2CM located in the milk ducts. It was the type of cancer that was fed by estrogen.

Just hearing the “C” word devastated me. I will never forget getting that phone call at work and hearing those words, “You have stage 2 cancer.” All I could think of was that I had teenage children and I needed to be there for them, and not be sick. On that first day of learning I had cancer I made a decision that I was going to be a survivor. With a very supportive extended family, many friends, church and my Sunday School class and Idalou ISD staff support, it helped me to overcome the diagnosis and I decided with God I could beat cancer. I was referred to Dr. Ronaghan for surgery. I underwent three surgeries to get clear margins. My surgeon kept telling me to give her one more time to get the clear margins. I had each surgery one week apart. I was so discouraged, but on the third surgery the margins were cleared. She did not think I needed a mastectomy.

After surgery, I was sent to the oncologist to discuss chemo and radiation. I had four treatments of a high dose of chemo every two weeks for eight weeks. I had my first chemo iv drip and thought, this isn’t so bad until one hour after leaving Joe Arrington Cancer center and I got very sick. Throwing up was difficult for about two to three days. I was in bed the entire time. However, by Monday morning I went back to work. I think going to work helped to keep moving and at times I wasn’t focused on the disease. It helps to keep looking to the future.

After the second treatment the hardest part occurred. I was in the shower, and I started losing my hair. Not just a little bit, but in chunks. The fun part is trying on fun wigs with your friends and finding fun scarfs. I was encouraged to embrace the new look with confidence. It saved a lot of time fixing my hair. There is another side after Chemo- Your hair grows back so slowly, not like it was before but you are so glad your hair is coming back. The nurses and staff at Joe Arrington are amazing. I continued with 10 weeks of radiation on the cancer site. Every afternoon after work I would drive to Joe Arrington for an hour with radiation therapy. My skin did very well and did not burn too badly. The creams kept away any pain. Having radiation causes extreme tiredness. I had decided that cancer was not going to cripple my spirt, I had faith and determination and gathered my strength from my support system. My very compassionate support system helped with weekly meals, and helped with transporting my teenage children to school events when I needed help. I had prayers from so many people, and friends came to visit or called to chat. I am now in remission from 2004 to 2024, almost 20 years! Cancer free!

          I was able to get through cancer because I always stayed positive and believed that I could beat this; I knew Jesus was carrying me along! The song, “I Hope you Dance” by Lee Ann Womack helped me keep going. Some of my favorite quotes were, “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it today.”“ You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined.” I also loved the verse, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 and Jeremiah 30:17, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.” I was raised in Petersburg and Tulia. I went to school until the 4th grade in Petersburg and moved to Tulia as my parents moved their farming operation to the Vigo Park community. I graduated from Tulia High School in 1980. I attended Texas Tech University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a math minor. I married and moved to Idalou Texas. I taught school for Lubbock ISD for a total of 8 years and Idalou ISD for 22 years. I retired from teaching in the public school with 30 years of public education in 2017. I went to work at Southcrest Christian School as a Math Coach and am currently still working in this profession. I have worked in education for 36 years. My husband, Mark Bristo and I own a farming business in Idalou where we grow wheat and various hay crops and run cattle.

My mother and father are Don and Glenna Crooks. I grew up with my three other siblings. Kevin, Kristi, and Kippi. I married Barry Patrick and had 2 children , Nashee and Danielle. After my divorce , I married Marc Bristo and continued to live in Idalou where we raised our family. I currently have 1 son-in-law, Ryan Pierce married to Danielle, and they have two children, Rhett and Hudson. Nashee has one child, Berklynn Hood. I am totally in love with my three grandchildren and

have lots of opportunities to love on them. In my free time, I love playing, doing activities , and spending time with my grandchildren. I am blessed to get to do life with my kids, grandkids, husband, and family. I love hanging out with my husband and going to have dinner together. I enjoy traveling, especially cruises. My happy place is anywhere around water- swimming, ocean, or lake.  I love to go to concerts, plays, and Broadway shows. I enjoy hanging with friends and having a laugh. I love working in my yard during the summer.

My mother is my role model. She is an inspiration to me. She is the matriarch of our family and leads with the roar of the lion, but cares deeply about all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She shares experiences and connects those experiences with verses in the bible. She is the first one to show up to help you if you need it and she calls to check on everyone. She is the one that rallies the family together. She gathers all the family together for all holidays and anyone else you want to bring to her get togethers. She enjoys having her family near and entertaining them in her home. She can work out on the farm or in her yard all day and an hour later be ready for an evening out. She has a growth mind-set and is always reading and learning new things. She manages her home, the farm books, and works out on the farm doing all kinds of jobs, even now at 82. The best advice I have ever received is, “Hold your head up high- put on those high heels and your red lip stick– You got this girl!” and “One day at a time, one step at a time. Do what you can, do your best. Let God handle the rest.” Michelle Jones

Stacy Campbell

Stacy Campbell is from Spur, but now resides in New Braunfels. She had triple negative breast cancer. Here is her cancer story in her own words. I am 64 years young, and my cancer journey began a little over 10 years ago. I have always been a huge advocate of mammograms and have been diligent with annual mammograms, but not so much self-exams, and had no problems with mine in January of 2011. I am here to tell you that things can change quickly. In the summer of 2011, I started feeling “off”. I went to my doctor, and we worked on some medication and lifestyle changes. In October I told my doctor something is just was not right. My doctor ordered an abdominal scan that showed spots in my right lung, scar tissue, right? A chest scan was next. The doctor called me at home at 8:00 PM – what looked like breast cancer showed up in the scan – only 10 months after my mammogram. The enemy had invaded. Note to self: listen to your body!

The biopsy revealed Triple Negative Breast cancer which I quickly learned tends to grow and spread more quickly than most breast cancers, has fewer treatment options, and tends to have a more negative prognosis. My oncologist gave me a detailed scenario of Triple Breast Cancer including protocols, options,

survival rates – what would happen now and what could happen over the next three years. After a little research and lots of prayer, I was confident in the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Two days before my surgery scheduled for January 6, 2012, I distinctly remember driving home from the grocery store and suddenly it all hit me – I pulled to the side of the road, crying, and acknowledging aloud that my body would never be as God made me, a hard reality. No matter your age or situation, this change in your body is gut-wrenching and life altering. As women, our breasts are part of our identity in so many ways. God reminded me at that moment that I was a woman who lived in faith, not fear, and that my spirit would not change but become stronger.

Because of the Triple Negative Cancer, I would receive “dose dense” chemo – four hard rounds, two weeks apart, then change meds and have weekly chemo for 12 weeks for a total of sixteen treatments. I will not go into specific details. but I was sick, I lost my hair, the steroids made me swell, and I was a Murphy’s Law patient. If it could happen it did…staph infection, giving myself IVs at home three times a day for three weeks, hospitalizations, chemo delays, port issues, and six surgeries. All this in addition to “life” – a 90-year-old mother who needed me, although I never told her I was sick, two grown children with life-challenging events, and grandchildren I needed to watch grow.

Being positive was crucial to my recovery. I felt empowered the day my head was shaved. I made the choice about the day and place when I felt like most choices were not mine. My mother and her best friend thought putting on lipstick cures about everything in the world. Following their advice, I put on lipstick and

earrings for every infusion and told myself,  “Who needs hair when you have pretty earrings and great lipstick?” I tried not to be the person who said, “Why me” because in reality “Why not me?” Now I know I can be positive when life is not perfect, and hopefully reflect that attitude to others. I am so much more aware of

the beauty of this world and the goodness of simple things.

What do I say to those I mentor or advocate for? Please get your annual mammograms, perform self-checks (men and women) and please, please listen to your gut. Your body and soul will talk to you. Do not cheat others of the blessing of helping you. Only climb the mountain that is right in front of you because of the one on the other side can wait until you get over this one. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So here I am, 10 years later when at one time living three years was questionable. I am a survivor. Don’t you love that word? Survivor is defined as one who endures adversity or hardship with an attitude of stoicism and persistence. Synonyms for survivor are fighter, hero, champion, conqueror. I pray for the time that every patient can wear the badge of survivor. My journey is still a part of my life,  not so much because I fear the cancer will return. I think about my journey because it has been a piece of the puzzle of my life. God’s blessings to you all.

I was an honoree at our local "Bras for a Cause" event and had to give an interview. This event aligned perfectly with my 10-year survivor anniversary! I was the last honoree to tell my story and I felt the definition/synonyms for survivor were a significant way to encourage hope. 

 Stacy was born and raised in Spur and married a Spur guy, Bill Campbell. They owned and operated Campbell Funeral Home for many years. Bill and Stacy moved to Ruidoso, NM in 2002. He passed away in 2005 and she came back to Texas a year later. They had two children, Kyla and Spence who were both raised in Spur. Stacy says, “Fortunately for me, my kids, their spouses and my six grandchildren all live within 10 minutes of me now. I have to say Spur will always be home. I am now retired and enjoy being a Yaya and chasing the grands. They are ages 16-4 so there is always an event or three to attend. I have a wonderful and diverse circle of friends who are always up for an adventure and travel, such as tent camping in Big Bend, and trips to New Orleans, Spain, Portugal, and Iceland along with a lot of local live music and events. Words I have lived by are, “Live in faith, not fear.”

Lesli Clark

Lesli Rush Clark lives on a ranch between Spur and Post and had stage 4 colon cancer. She tells her cancer story in her own words.

Friday, January 13, 2023, was the day we first heard the words “You have cancer”! This date will ALWAYS and forever be etched in my memory! I received a call that morning telling me I needed to get to an emergency center as soon as possible for an immediate CT scan because my white cell count was extremely high. By the time the scan was completed, it was a Friday afternoon before a three-day holiday. We could not even contact an oncologist to make an appointment because all the offices were already closed for the holiday! I will always remember the look my husband, Eddie, gave me when we heard those three words that would forever change the course of our lives. It was a look that said, “All will be okay, and we will get through this together!”

I was in total shock when the phone call came because I had been diagnosed with diverticulitis by my PCP just two days before. This diagnosis made sense because of my symptoms. I also had bloodwork done in December of 2022 and my white blood count was not high at all! I just knew the lady telling me I had cancer HAD to be wrong! She was not wrong, and we all know that cancer has no boundaries.

After finally getting connected to an oncologist the following week, it was all so fast and furious to see exactly what we were dealing with. I had to have a colonoscopy, another CT scan, a biopsy, and port insertion among other things! It was A LOT to take in and to NOT get overwhelmed to learn I had Stage 4 Colon Cancer! It took me a bit to gather my thoughts on how the Lord and I were going to slay this beast. Following chemo and maintenance treatment, I am overjoyed to say that on February 20, 2024, I was officially diagnosed as being in remission. I am now in maintenance mode. Our God is an Awesome God!

My Lord and Savior, my faith and my amazing family and friends along with thousands of amazing prayer warriors are what have gotten me through this experience. I also believe firmly in the power of a positive mindset. As with all things in life, it has helped me get through this chapter. Our minds are like a magnet. If you think of blessings, you get blessings. If you think of problems, you get problems. Always cultivate good thoughts. The verse, Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in HIM” has been my go-to verse for many years. My motto throughout this journey is “Y’all keep praying and the Lord and I are going to keep on slaying.” 

I was raised in Levelland where my parents lived for 42 years. I graduated from Levelland High School in 1981. I attended South Plains College and then went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from West Texas State University. I was a legal assistant for a law firm in Lubbock for 16 years. The Lord blessed us enough that I was able to leave that job in January 2017 and be self-employed to work from home. My husband, Eddie, and I have been married for 17 years. Eddie is the location manager for Nutrien Ag Solutions in Floydada. He has been my absolute rock throughout this chapter in our lives. We raised two amazing boys into great men. Cole is our oldest and we could not be prouder of him. He is married to his amazing wife, Randi. We have two of the most beautiful granddaughters. Kennedy is five and Collins is three. As a proud LiLi, I can say they are awesome and the cutest granddaughters ever! We also had a son, Case, who sadly was killed by a drunk driver on March 11, 2021, at the age of twenty-two. He was an awesome individual and those that were lucky enough to know him were most definitely blessed. He did so many wonderful things in the brief time we had with him. He was destined for great things here on Earth, but God had other plans for him and us. We miss him terribly, but we know he has walked through this “cancer journey” with me and watched over me.

In our free time, my husband and I enjoy golfing, camping with friends and taking trips to Mexico. I have so many role models. My mom is my biggest role model and cheerleader. I do not think you could ever find a better person. She is kind. She is giving and so much more. My dad passed away after 65 years of marriage. My Aunt Donna (who is also a style show model) is also a huge role model of mine. Her courage and determination to beat her breast cancer was amazing. My best advice is, “Always choose kind no matter how hard it is! We never know what others are struggling with.”

Judy Dunlap

Judy Dunlap is from Floydada and has had cancer three different times. in her life. Here is her story in her own. I was two months pregnant when I was waiting in the car for my husband when I reached up to rub my neck and felt a weird lump. I immediately felt sick. Sure enough it was diagnosed as Hodgkins Disease. The oncologist in Lubbock wanted to abort the pregnancy and begin treatment. I said NO! I left the hospital and started thinking. My cousin was an infertility specialist. He got me into M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston. They said this type of cancer is slow growing. I had sweet Bonnie in July 1983. The two weeks after Bonnie was born church ladies brought food every day until I left for Houston. Two weeks after her birth I left her, and our 18 months old Robert, a precious baby we had adopted at 10 days old, with my parents to begin my chemotherapy journey. We had adopted Robert after 9 years of marriage, and after a surgery to remove endometrioses, within two months I was pregnant with Bonnie! I did treatments in cooperation with the Lubbock and Houston doctors until just before Christmas that year. I lost all my hair after the first round if chemo A lady from church that had just lost her husband came to stay with me in Houston so that my husband, John could come tend to the farm. Another church lady always knew when a round of Chemo was ending and I could eat food. She would make homemade chicken and dumplings for us every time! I remembered another sweet church lady who washed, rolled and styled my wig every Saturday for nine months so it would be fresh for Sunday morning church. My hair finally grew back CURLY! It took several years and haircuts to get back to its straight, boring self!

My parents, John, and my church family at City Park Church of Christ in Floydada got me through! Then, SURPRISE! In January 1986 we had a sweet baby girl Melissa, and it was a normal pregnancy. Our family was complete. However, 24 years later, a yearly exam showed cancer cells again. I had a hysterectomy which removed them. Then in the fall of 2021, I had a mammogram which showed a lump in my left breast. I had it removed, followed by rounds of radiation for six weeks. After three bouts with cancer, I am still FIGHTING!!!

My parents, Bruce and Norma Marrs, and sister, Peggy, and I lived on a farm 10 miles north of Paducah, from the time I was born until I was 8 Years old. Then we moved to Matador, to raise cattle. That is where I lived until I graduated high school and attended Abilene Christian University. Following an early graduation in December 1972 I married Johnny (now known as John) Dunlap and began life as the wife of a cotton and wheat farmer on the beautiful Caprock of Texas in Floydada.

Living one day at a time and trusting God to take care of us in His own time in His own way has gotten me through my life. The song that gets me through the tough times, as well as the good times is "Count Your Blessings". I also love the 23rd Psalms. In my "free" time (whatever that is) I like to watch the sun rise and the sun set, work in my yard, and love being with family and friends. Sending cards of encouragement to others makes me happy. My mom is my role model as she lived a healthy 95 years through much adversity and no complaining. She always said, "Time takes care of most things." My advice--Choose Joy! Be Grateful. Eat Veggies. Exercise. Stay Social. PRAY!

Amy Feaster

I was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in March of 2023.  I went in for a short-day surgery and was supposed to be home by noon, but the cancer was found at that time. It was quite a shock because cancer was not something that was suspected at all. I ended up staying in the hospital for several days and was referred to a gynecological oncologist.  The oncologist recommended I receive six rounds of chemotherapy.  I completed my chemo in November of 2023.  I thank God for the advancement in medicine because I had very little side effects other than extreme fatigue.  I did lose my hair and that was traumatic for me.  I was able to find a wig that matched my hair so perfectly that even my husband did not realize I had on a wig the first time he saw it! 

The hardest people to tell about my diagnosis were my boys. They tried to be strong, but it shook them up, and as a mother you never want that for your children.  They both ended up being some of my strongest supporters and encouragers. When I told one of my sons about the cancer he said, “Mom! I know you are so scared,” and I told him I really wasn’t.  I told him that I understood the seriousness of this diagnosis, but I am ok. This is just a trial that I will get through with God and my friends and family. I continued to feel that way throughout the whole process. I had some dark, scary moments along the way, but I always remembered how much I had to live for and how strong and mighty my God is.

God and my family and friends got me through my cancer. My husband waited on me hand and foot and never made me feel like a burden. My mother is a cancer survivor and probably the strongest person I know. She was always so encouraging and took great care of me.  My brother was in the room when I heard my diagnosis from the doctor, and he is always a comfort to me with his strong faith. My sister made sure I was following all the doctors’ orders and took time to come and sit with me when I was in the hospital and took me shopping for my wig and made the experience such a positive one.  My close friends (they know who they are) each one of them helped me so much in their own way.  Whether it was a phone call, a text, a prayer, a meal brought to my house, a basket of gifts to take to chemo, a hug, a word of encouragement or just a smile and the knowledge that I knew each of them would be there for me if I ever needed anything was very calming. With a mighty God and these great people in my life, I feel so blessed! My favorite Bible verse that got me through many trials is Jeremiah 29:11, “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 a hope and a future.”

          I am originally from Amherst, Texas. My mother is a retired teacher, and my daddy was a pharmacist. I have a younger brother who is the executive pastor at Lakeridge Methodist Church in Lubbock  and younger sister who is an Occupational Therapist. After high school I attended West Texas State University and received my Bachelor of Science degree in education. Later I received my master’s in educational leadership from Lubbock Christian University.  I began teaching school in Plainview and have also taught in Merkel, Dimmitt, and Ralls. I have been a classroom teacher, a reading coach, a counselor, an assistant principal, and a principal. I am currently teaching special education at Ralls Elementary.  This is my 37th year in education and my 26th in Ralls.  My husband Bobby and I, who is a retired teacher and coach, have been married for 35 years.  We have two sons Grant and his wife Bella who live in Refugio, Texas and Luke and his wife Chaslyn who live in Ozona, Texas.  Both sons are currently teaching and coaching.  We also have eight wonderful grandchildren. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my grandkids, and watching sporting events. The best advice I ever received wasn’t ever said out loud to me. I just  learned it through watching my daddy interact with people.  He taught me to always look for and see the best in people.  If you take time to look for it and not always be blinded by their flaws you can see some pretty great qualities in others.

Rosemary Finley

Rosemary Finley has lived in Floydada all of her life except when she went off to college! She had bladder cancer in February of 2023. Her symptoms felt like a urinary trac infection, but the results came back negative. She had been to a urologist 20 years before and had been told she had IGA anthropeia but was told not to worry, and that blood in her urine would just be part of it. However, in December of 2020 she got covid and six months later her kidneys failed which put her on dialysis three times/week. She was then placed on a kidney transplant list in San Antonio, in need of a new kidney.

Rosemary had a urologist appointment with her doctor, Dr. Kirk, on a Wednesday, and he told her that she had an aggressive cancerous tumor on her bladder which was miraculously removed in less than a week. Thankfully, the surrounding cells showed no signs of cancer. Sadly, the day after the tumor was removed, she got a call at 11 at night from San Antonio saying they had a match, and a kidney was available. Due to aggressive bladder cancer, she was not longer a candidate for the kidney and was taken off the list. A positive note, two years cancer free put her back on the list for a kidney! So far, Rosemary goes every three months for a bladder exam and other tests, and has been cancer free! She continues the life-saving dialysis three days/week. God has gotten Rosemary through several challenges times, including the experience with her cancer, her daily dialysis, and she has also had a bleeding ulcer in her esophagus. All these trials have made her realize that God was walking with her through all these things and that He is never going to leave her.

Her family includes her husband, Jim who was her high school sweetheart, and they have two sons. Their oldest son is married and is a sheriff’s deputy in Lincoln County, NM and they have two kids, their grandkids, a boy 5 years old, and a girl 3. Their other son resides in Floydada. Her role models were her parents, her mom born in Floydada, Roberta Garrett, and who married Bill Hardin (part of the Hardin crew from McAdoo). She was an only child and was relieved her cancer came after they passed because they would have had a struggle. Rosemary found out she had cancer the day before her dad’s funeral service and lost her mother in 2021 at 88 and her dad died at 95. Her dad lived every day taking care of her mom and were fierce followers of Christ which taught her how to live. Throughout all the trials, she knew God was working in her life. She was confident that God would overcome, and that her ultimate healing would come when she is heaven, and her job is to show people that there is a God who loves and is with you. She loves to quote her mother who, no matter the circumstance would say, “We have been so blessed”.

In her free times, Rosemary has two wonderful cousins, plus other people who drive her to dialysis three days/week and she counts these visiting times as precious. She loves to read and has turned one of her spare bedrooms into a library. She and her husband love to take weekend trips, pulling out after dialysis on Friday and returning Sunday, with Santa Fe being their favorite destination. Of course, stopping off to see grandkids on the way is a must! She never takes for granted the joy and beauty in God’s creation.

Alicia Fira

Alicia Fira is almost a life-long Crosbyton resident and has had breast cancer twice. Following a routine mammogram in 2013, which she was diligent to get every year, Alicia received a phone call and was told she had cancer. Her husband, Willie, took it hard and started to cry. She felt a peace and felt confident, saying, “They just found it, and I am going to be ok.” She did however wonder, “Why me?” since no one in her family had been diagnosed with cancer. While at the doctor’s office, hearing about her cancer, she remembers going blank and not hearing a word from the doctor, but Willie was strong and remembered it all and told her all the details later. Treatment included a mastectomy on her left breast, and no further therapy was needed. She continued to have annual mammograms, and eight years later in 2021 a malignant lump was discovered in a routine mammogram, and she had to have a mastectomy on her right breast. She did not have to have treatment following. Since then, Alicia is diligent in getting an annual chest x-ray instead of a mammogram.

Alicia was born in Kansas City, Texas, but has called Crosbyton home for most all her life. She and her husband, Willie have three children, Willie Jr., Sandra, and Bobby. They have 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren! Alicia has set a record, working at the Crosbyton Clinic Hospital for 45 years, starting in 1964 as an aid, learning from the best, Mrs. Pearl Anderson, the nurse supervisor. Alicia served in many capacities at the hospital, some of which included an aide in the nursery, assisted in delivery, working with the doctors in the emergency room, dressing surgical wounds, delivering oxygen therapy, and checking dressings. After a short three years working in physical therapy, she returned to the floor. Pat Smith recommended Alicia to Dr. Rhoades because he needed a Spanish-speaking assistance. This began a perfect match working with Dr. Rhoades. When she became pregnant with her second child, she told Dr. Rhoades, “You owe me a delivery”, and he delivered Sandra, her daughter. When Alicia became pregnant with Bobbie, Dr. Rhoades delivered him in 1971, and Bobbie was the last baby delivered by Dr. Rhoades! During her stint with Dr. Rhoades, they would sometimes see 60 patients a day. Dr. Rhoades never turned anyone away and they often stayed past 6:00. She worked for many other doctors following Dr. Rhoades.

Alicia attributes her best friends and her family for helping her get through her cancer experience. Those best friends included the late Mrs. Gene (Linda) Dewbre, the late Mrs. Eddy (Carolyn) Dewbre, and Mrs. Fred (Donna) Owens. This foursome went on trips together, told secrets and shared their lives. Today she and Donna often still talk on the phone. When asked what she does in her free time, Alicia replied, “Is there such a thing?” She followed it by saying she takes care of her mother, Ramona who is 94, and enjoys taking care of her house. 

Suzy Galloway

Suzy is a life-long Crosbyton resident, and in April of 2023 was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had moved into her spine, pelvis, and ribs, weakening her to the point of using a wheelchair and walker. Suzy had back and hip pain for a while which she attributed to being on her feet much of the time, and to the fact that she was an intense high school basketball player. The pain became so bad that she made an appointment with her PCP, receiving an MRI of her back and hip. Her calcium levels were off the chart, later learning the cancer had taken over her bones, forcing calcium into her bloodstream. He gave her the cancer call which shocked her because she never attributed the pain to cancer.  

Finally getting an appointment with an oncologist that would accept her insurance, radiation started on the lower vertebrae and pelvic area where the cancer was concentrated. Doctors were not sure where the source of cancer started so she went through a battery of tests, including a mammogram. Two spots, the size of pencil lead tip were found, with only one being cancerous; both were removed with a biopsy. She was told that this cancer, an estrogen, or hormone positive cancer loved bone and had travelled through a small pathway in the sternum,  by-passing the breast, and went straight to her bone, spine, and ribs. Finding the source of her cancer was only possible through a mammogram because she was unable to feel a lump and was told a sonogram would not have found the two spots. Suzy’s advice, “Get the mammogram!” Miraculously the biopsy took the cancer out of her breast!

In July her oncologist left Lubbock and God told Suzy to go to MD Anderson, even though they didn’t take her insurance. A miracle happened as she was able to get another policy, thanks to her husband’s employment, and the new insurance even went back and covered the previous month! She started chemo treatments and was told certain cancers deform the bones and certain cancers deteriorate the bones, and this cancer did both. Suzy’s reply was “Go big or go home,” never giving in to the treatment or the pain! She was told not to lift, stretch, bend, or fall because her bones were about as strong as chalk. She was outfitted with a wheelchair and was  happy because it gave her greater mobility. Shockingly, she had shrunk five inches, going from 5’ 10 1/2’ to 5’ 5 ½”! Today her bones are showing great progress in bone strength, but she will never get those five inches back. Suzy takes a daily estrogen blocker along with her chemo pill, consequently averaging 10 hot flashes/day where she is dripping with sweat and looks like she played four quarters in a basketball game!

Suzy’s latest report in her own words, sent out to friends, “Your prayers have been heard! I recently went to Houston and received a wonderful report. Although my cancer is STILL THERE it is NON-ACTIVE! This is what my oncologist wanted to accomplish. She has lowered my chemo medication to reduce some side-effects and we will have a recheck in 3 months. She stated she wanted my body to tolerate this medication for a very long time. Of course, we still strive and pray for total healing, but this news is God’s work! He has been extremely gracious to me! We are celebrating God, through all this, and we appreciate your continued prayers. Thank you for your love and kindness. We love each of you so much! I know my improved health is all God, listening to your prayers! Oh, what a great God we have! On an additional note, which to me is even greater than my health, all my family is finding healing and doing well! God’s mercy, grace and love overflows my cup! Praise be to God forever! In joy or trials, we will praise him! 

Suzy married a Floydada boy, Guy, graduating from Crosbyton High School in 1990. They have three children, Kalley, Kylan and husband John Yannis, and Brody, and three grandchildren, Memphis Galloway and Zayden and Zoe Yannis. Suzy says her grandchildren are her motivators! Guy, the love of her life, is her biggest supporter and strength along with her family! Her mom, Julia, was her rock during this ordeal, despite falling and breaking her hip mid-way through Suzy’s treatment. Suzy says that this community, and the whole county have blown her away with love, care, and concern, and doesn’t doubt for a second that the prayers of these faithful friends were miraculous! In the tough times the cards, texts, prayers, pop ups would strengthen her! Suzy is happiest when she is outside or being with the grandkids. Her best advice comes from her dad, the late Dale Montgomery, “Don’t change who or what you are to make others comfortable. Show care, love, and kindness in all that you say and do.”
 

Darla Gwinn

Darla Gwinn lived in Matador and had breast cancer, and recently liver and bone cancer. Here is her story in her own words. In 1999  I found a lump in my left breast and told my doctor. We watched it for a bit then decided on a needle biopsy. My husband and I were told at the appointment it was breast cancer and given our options. We decided to remove the breast as soon as possible. I was scheduled to have surgery on June 1, 1999. At the time I did not know if I would have reconstructive surgery or not. I was still processing everything. On the day of surgery just before I was put under anesthesia, I told my surgeon I wanted reconstructive surgery. He said, “I’m glad you told me because that will affect how I do this surgery.” After surgery he told me that the cancer was small and had not spread, and that the lymph nodes were clear as well as the surrounding tissue. We scheduled reconstructive surgery for Sunday, June 3. I was given a choice of a tummy tuck using the fat removed to form the breast, moving it under the skin to its new position or a breast implant. Since the timing of the surgery was so soon, he did not know if an implant would arrive in time. Because of the recovery time I told him the implant was my first choice but if not, do the tummy tuck. I left it in God’s hands which procedure it would be. The implant came in so that was what was done. The cancer was so small and had not spread, so I did not have to have chemotherapy or radiation. I chose to do tamoxifen for five years even though the chances of reoccurrence were exceptionally low. I continued to go to Joe Arrington Cancer center for my follow up appointments until that was no longer necessary.  I was cancer free until August 2022. I had a pain in my right side and my son and husband took me to the Heart Hospital ER. I was thinking it was some kind of stone. The doctor examined me and did some tests and ex-rays. She came back in and said, “I’m so sorry but you have liver cancer, and it is in your bones also.”  Wow, I thought I was done with cancer but no.
As we were leaving Lubbock, we were discussing what to do next. I called Joe Arrington Cancer Center and told them about my diagnosis and that I was a former patient. We went to them immediately and gave them my report.

On August 25, 2022, I  started my second cancer journey. My first treatment was September 29, 2022. I had three infusions every three weeks until December 22. I had started having neuropathy in my feet and hands. In October I lost my hair. Every time l took a shower there were handfuls of hair in the drain. I shaved it off after a few incidents because it was less traumatic than losing it in the shower. My treatment was put on hold until February while some tests were done. In February 2023 I had two infusions every three weeks until September, and since then one infusion. In February I started getting two shots in my hips, instead of one of the prior infusions. My cancer markers have come down from 314 when I started to 12.5! My hair has come back also.

God was with me throughout this as He has been with me throughout my life. I accepted Him as my Savior when I was sixteen. I was blessed to grow up with Christian parents, grandparents, and extended family He has led me by bringing my husband James to me, who has been my best friend and support in every trial, bringing me my children, my grandchildren, and getting to see them grow. God has enabled me be able to help my parents when health failed them, and being a part of a body of Christ that loves God and each other as family means the world to me. Cancer has been just a small part of it all. There is so much more to life than cancer. I always knew that however this part of my life turned out, God had my best in mind, I was His whether here on earth or heaven with Him. Sometimes we can only focus on parts of the whole. If I can be loving like Jesus, show the world Him, help someone especially my family to accept Him, that would be enough.

I live in Matador, Texas and was born in the former hospital that is now the clinic. I have lived in Motley County all my life, except a few months after birth because my parents lived in New Mexico but moved back soon after. I am the middle child of five, two older brothers and two younger sisters. I started school in Flomot then transferred to Matador when I was in fourth grades, graduating there. My dad, mother, and oldest brother are deceased. My Dad, from lung cancer and brother from melanoma. I live in the country on a farm with my husband that we bought in 1981. We have two children and five grandchildren. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary in June, Lord willing! In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends.
 

Jody Higginbotham

            Jody Higginbotham is originally from Crosbyton and had two different typer of stage one HER2 positive and invasive breast cancer. Here is her cancer story in her own words. My journey began in late October of 2016. I had not had a mammogram in four years, and I did not want one! I debated with the Lord about getting a mammogram. Really the Lord told me to go and get one and I thought, “I am fine and healthy and I don’t need one.” This went on for a couple of days and I finally went to the PA and had a breast exam and the a mammogram. She called later and said that I needed an ultrasound and another mammogram as the first one was unclear. I wasn’t concerned about anything at this time. I knew everything was going to be ok! Out of sight, out of mind! I was living in Pecos and after all of the tests, the PA sent me to Odessa for another ultrasound and a mammogram, followed by a biopsy. I still didn’t think anything about it! On a Monday afternoon around 1 p.m., I will never will forget that moment, Brandie, the PA called with the news – You have breast cancer. I said, “WHAT” and then I started laughing like Sara in the Bible when the Lord told her she was going to have a baby at age 99! Brandie and I always joked around with each other, so when she told me I didn’t have one kind of breast cancer, I had two kinds, I thought she was kidding. She told me I had invasive and HER2 positive. The thing is I never did a breast exam, never worried or was concerned about the word CANCER. Still after hearing the word CANCER, after laughing I asked her, “What do we do now?” The tumor was as small as a grain of rice!

            I went to Odessa to the Texas Cancer Center. This was the closest cancer center to Pecos where I was living. I saw the doctor and scheduled surgery and on January 5, 2017 the surgery was successful.  There was no cancer in the lymph nodes, and the tumor was  removed. I then had 22 radiation treatments, going five days/week, followed by 12 chemo treatments, and every three weeks I had a follow-up IV treatment, and this went on for six months. The radiation drained my energy and I just felt yucky and sick. I lost my hair from the chemo treatments, but I loved my bald head, not having to wash and fix my hair. I had two hats, a pink one and a blue flowered one.

            During all of this I was not afraid. I looked at it as an adventure! The Lord went before me. The verse that sustains me is Joshua 1:9. Be strong and courageous. Do not be troubled or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. The Lord was with me through this journey. He gave me strength and courage . My advice to everyone is to listen to your inner voice, the Lord, and go every year and get a checkup and a mammogram!

Jody was raised in Crosbyton by parents Bill and Sib Higginbotham and was the oldest of four children. She has three brothers, Frank, Don, and John, two nieces, and two great nieces. She has six nieces and nephews that adore her and see her as a second grandma. In Jody’s free time she loves reading, sewing, and taking care the two dogs, Pixie and Susie that she and her mom share. She has recently taken up quilting and has already made several quilts. She has started working out at the Fitness Center and is enjoying doing fitness training.

Kristi Howard

Kristi Howard is one of Idalou’s own, and was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on December 15, 2022.  In her own words, Kristi tells her story. My cancer is a blood cancer that affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow.  Plasma cells are white blood cells and part of the immune system.  Multiple Myeloma can make you very susceptible to infections, can affect your bones causing lesions and fractures, and can affect your kidneys, eventually causing failure if untreated.  There is no cure for Multiple Myeloma YET,  but it is treatable and there are prolonged remissions that are achievable. I was diagnosed by having my Lipid Profile checked for cholesterol purposes and was confirmed through many other labs and a bone marrow biopsy.  I was very blessed to have been diagnosed before my bones and kidneys were affected. 

I started treatment 1/4/2023, with Dr. Yalamanchilli at Joe Arrington Cancer Center.  Treatment consists of weekly shots of immunotherapy drugs, steroids, and a daily immunotherapy pill. I stayed on this treatment until my stem cell transplant in October 2023.  This transplant required 2 large doses of chemotherapy to kill my bone marrow, then my own stem cells were given back to me. This was done to hopefully put me in remission. On 1/30/2024, I had another bone marrow biopsy that determined I was in remission, however there are a few myeloma cells remaining, so I started back on my weekly shot regimen at Joe Arrington in February.  I have been able to continue my full-time job as an RN during all my treatment and have recently been able to return to my job.

I am so very thankful for the support from my family and friends, and especially my husband, Randy, who has been so strong and supportive. I could not have fought my myeloma without him and our kids. My faith, my family, and friends have helped me get through each day.  My faith in God has gotten stronger and I know He is with me always.  Whenever I feel anxious or nervous about a blood test, or scan or biopsy, I try to “give it to God” and let Him worry about it.  Randy and my kids have been amazing at keeping me feeling positive.  Randy has also given me the space to let me feel down and vent when I need to also.  My favorite verse that helps sustain me is, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10. 

I grew up in Post and  lived in Lubbock until 2006, when I moved with my family to Idalou. I have been married to Randy for 27 years.  Our children are Beau, who is married to our wonderful daughter-in-law Sydney;  Blake, and Jaci.  Beau and Sydney are the parents to our precious, beautiful granddaughter, Hallie Lou. 

I love spending time with our family, especially our kids and granddaughter.  Our brothers and sisters-in-law have also been such a blessing to spend time with.  We love to travel, go hiking, and go camping in our 5th wheel although we don’t get to do that often.  Spending time at church and at the beach is also a favorite activity. Someone I admire is my husband, Randy.  He has been so supportive of me throughout this process. He has gone with me to almost every appointment/treatment, has endured the crazy aftereffects of my steroid days with so much kindness, has prayed for me and over me, and has worked so hard for our family.  He goes above and beyond as a husband and dad and always has.  There aren’t enough words to say how thankful I am for him. He’s my best friend and my hero. The best advice I’ve gotten is the phrase: “Give it To God!!”, and I must do this all of the time.  He can handle things that I can’t so if it’s something that I am struggling with, I give it to Him, and my stress is so much better.  Also, just to be thankful. I try to be thankful every day. Even on the hard days, there is something to be thankful for. 

Tanya Kelsey

Tanya Kelsey from Lorenzo had always had perfectly normal mammograms, but in 1999 a mammogram detected a spot. It was biopsied and found to be cancer. A lumpectomy followed, along with 30 radiation and chemo treatments. She didn’t get sick or lose her hair but would feel exhausted after being out in the sun, especially when she was out filling deer feeders. She noted that the lumpectomy made her look lopsided. In 2012 Tanya’s thyroid had to be removed because it appeared to be cancerous. Both times Tanya never doubted she would come through it because of God’s help and good doctors.

Tanya grew up in Robertson community rabbit hunting with her cousins, but now lives and is very active in Lorenzo where her family has a fertilizer business. She has two grown kids and one grandson. Tanya is on several boards including the Fair, War Memorial, Senior Citizens, and is the 4-H shooting sports leader. She worked for 20 years in the tax assessor office. Tanya was the first girl in Crosby County to run track and did so during her junior and senior years in the early 1970’s, running against the boys! She loves to brag that she beat Larry Ashley! She enjoys hunting but quit about three years ago, and now plays Banco at the First Baptist Church, and loves to volunteer at the Lorenzo Senior Citizens, helping to keep it afloat. She also enjoys working early voting elections.

Her role model is her daughter, Kezia who took her to all her doctor appointments and was such an encourager. Her dad holds a fond place in her memory as the two of them used to make and sell metal sculptures out of copper and brass. Many of their pieces are scattered around West Texas in agricultural businesses. The dad/daughter duo would make yucca, corn, maize, and cotton sculptures. Her mother was the marketer for this business. They once were commissioned to make a piece for one of the Secretary of Agriculture! Tanya’s advice is, “If you get cancer, it is not the end; have faith, you can beat it!”

Shanda Kelso

In April or May 2022, I recognized that I didn’t feel great. My father passed away in October, 2021, my mother had been diagnosed with dementia, and I had to take over their trust and her care. I had a lot of stress and grief and initially thought my issues were just those things.  However, I also noticed, even though I was on a daily hormone replacement because I had a total hysterectomy in 2007, I was sometimes having hot flashes. I wasn’t sure if that was a weird thing because it was new or if it was expected because I was aging. My annual checkup for 2021 showed everything was fine, and I had my regular annual mammogram.

My doctor, Dr. Owens had retired so I had a new gynecologist , and in July 2022, she did bloodwork, which showed my hormones were out of whack including high estrogen, nearly zero testosterone and zero progesterone. I started on compounded testosterone immediately and we were going to start working on the others. She also ordered my mammogram, but I had to wait on it due to scheduling until August 2022. I was traveling for work a lot at that time, and  two days after I had my mammogram I was called to schedule a sonogram. I tried to push them off because I was going to be out of town for work. They called on a Friday and wanted me there by Monday. I couldn’t do that as I was leaving on a Sunday. At their insistence that it should not wait, I rearranged my travel to come back early to have it the Wednesday. They insisted on an 8 am appointment. When I hung up the phone, I just sort of cleared my head and then prayed. My husband was working in the yard, and I went out and told him about the conversation. I also told him “I think I have breast cancer. “ He is a very positive person and refused to believe it and said we weren’t going to jump to any conclusions, but instead wait for the tests. It suddenly was clear that all the things I had chalked up to stress, grief and menopause made sense as cancer. I was just resigned to it.  I also didn’t want to say anything to anyone, I just wanted it to be he and I, but I knew in my heart I had cancer. We also had my lifelong best friend and her daughter in that weekend from Kansas. I said nothing to her as I just wanted one last weekend of normalcy. They left on Sunday morning, and I flew out that day as well. I went on my trip to San Antonio and Austin, said nothing to colleagues,  and flew back from Austin on a Tuesday night at 10 PM, cutting my trip short by two days. I am not sure if my husband or I slept much that night. My sonogram was at 8 AM Thursday morning, and by 9 am on  August 31, 2022, we were told I had cancer. I had a needle biopsy the next day on September 1 that confirmed the sonogram. Our world changed; we had lived a whole life of “before cancer”, suddenly we felt we were on a ride that we couldn’t get off of, or control.   We were shocked at the size of the tumor when just a year earlier it hadn’t been there. I also hadn’t felt it. The diagnosis was invasive ductal lobular carcinoma. I had a single mastectomy on my right breast with sentinel lymph node removal in October 2022. I did have clear margins, so I didn’t take radiation, but due to the type and stage of my cancer, I had a port placed in November and started the first of 22 rounds of chemotherapy in November 2022. I had three different chemo drugs over almost seven months. My last four treatments had to be reduced by 25% as I had an inflammatory response to the drugs in my body. Basically, the very fine line of saving my life was debatable and the chemotherapy started having a poisonous effect in my body and it was just breaking down. I did finish the reduced treatments and my last chemotherapy was on April 27, 2023. I found out I was in remission on May 30, 2023! 

I had DIEP Flap reconstruction and September 2023, and 11 and ½ hour surgery, and another reconstruction revision on March 2024.  I’m on a 3-month remission cycle testing due to the aggressive nature of the cancer. My oncologist left in June 2023, and I had to switch, which was hard, but I’m thankful to get treatment in Lubbock instead of traveling to MD Anderson in Houston. I did have the “MD Anderson protocol”, plus really great treatment here. I had no family history although my mother did have a benign lumpectomy in 2000. I do not have the BRCA gene. I am in a clinical study with TTU and the Mayo Clinic due to the type of cancer I had.

In response to what got me through the cancer experience, Shanda says, “My faith in Jesus Christ, my family, but especially my husband, my tribe of friends, and our pastor who says that I’m on the receiving end of  “prayers that shake”. “ We have had an outpouring of support we are endlessly grateful for. I also just decided that my story would be for His glory no matter the outcome and I wanted others to see Christ in the journey, good or not so good. I also tried to look forward to things, events, milestones, and rely on the strength of my survivor friends.

I clung to Romans 12:12, Exodus 14:14 and Isaiah 42:2-3. I listened to a lot of Christian music, including some favorites artists: Lauren Daigle, Toby Mac, Mercy Me, Jeremy Camp & For King and Country. Specifically, I’d say these songs I’ve gone to over and over the past two years. Rescue, Still Rolling Stones, Look Up Child by Lauren Daigle; Even If, Grace Got You, Say I Won’t by Mercy Me; Joy & The Proof of Your Love by For King & Country; Out of My Hands & Getting Started by Jeremy Camp; Move, Cornerstone, Faithfully by Toby Mac, just to name a few. 

Shanda’s hometown is Plains, and she married her college sweetheart, Billy Kelso. They have been married 33 years and have one son, Brody, 25, who is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.
Billy is a retired teacher, coach, and assistant principal. He currently works with Bayless Elementary in Lubbock ISD. Brody just accepted an IT Data Analyst position with Lubbock County. Shanda spent 25 years in education as a teacher and later Director of Special Education. She has worked for Frontline Education (software that supports K-12) for six years as a Client Services Manager working with school districts across Texas and various other states.

In her spare time, Shanda loves to read! She reads all genres except horror. She also enjoys traveling and playing card games.   She most admires Elizabeth Dole. Growing up, she was an inspiration as the first woman Secretary of Transportation and was on Shanda’s radar because she married Kansas senator Bob Dole. She paged for both the Kansas Senate and Senator Dole in Washington DC in high school. She admired how much Elizabeth impacted the American Red Cross, for which Shanda volunteered and worked as an American Red Cross Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor all throughout her high school and college years. She began donating blood when she was 16 years old as part of her American Red Cross initiatives and because her grandfather received blood during WWII through the Red Cross!

Elizabeth Dole’s work supporting military families and veteran caretakers continues to inspire Shanda. Shanda best advice is from her dad, “One thing he told me when I was young that has always stuck with me is that as long as I did my best, I’d never be regretful.” She added, “I miss him every day and  when I’ve felt like giving up or muddling through to just finish something, those words always come back to my thoughts.”

 

Sharon McDougle

I started noticing blood in my urine about a year or two before I found out what was really going on. I thought it was probably a kidney or bladder infection. I went to the doctor a few times, but the tests never showed an infection. If I drank a lot of water, it would eventually go away for a while. Then in 2012 it started happening more frequently, so I went back to the doctor, and he did the test again and still no infection. He asked if I had ever been to a urologist, and I said no. He got me an appointment with a urologist in Lubbock. Thus began my journey. I visited the urologist on September 11, 2012. When he examined my bladder with a scope, he could not really tell what was going on for blood that was in my bladder. So, surgery was set up on September 21, 2012, in order to look more fully into my bladder. After doing a bx, he removed a small bladder tumor. He discovered I had carcinoma bladder cancer low grade. He put in a foley for the drainage which I had to have 2-3 days or until my urine was clear. This was probably the worst thing because it was uncomfortable and bothersome. After going back for a follow up after surgery, I started bladder treatments. I had to go once a week for 6 weeks for Bladder Instillation Anticarcinogenic Agent injection into my bladder. For this to work I had to lay down and rotate my body so the medicine would get to all sides of my bladder. I went to my cousins who lived in Lubbock and borrowed her bed to do this part of the treatment. She was a lot of help to me as we visited while I did this each week. After the six weeks were completed, I went back to the doctor and he checked and no signs of the cancer were  back, so, I thought all is well! I would continue going back every three months and he would check and there were never any signs of cancer. When I went back in June of 2013 he checked and found some signs that the tumor had returned. I had another surgery on June 28, 2013, and he removed a tumor yet again. This time the cancer was Carcinoma Bladder Cancer High Grade. I would then do six more weeks of cancer treatments into my bladder this time being a little stronger.

The first time he removed a tumor, I had no side effects, but this second time around I would have some bleeding and burning when I urinated. I had to go through laying down and rotating my body again to cover the whole bladder with the medicine. I went to visit with my cousin again to do that part of the treatment. After the six weeks of treatment, I started going back to the urologist every three months for a while, then it went to six months and finally a year. I had no more signs of cancer. I still go once a year and everything has been clear and there are no cancer! Every time I go, I ask God for there not to be any signs of cancer and when I find out everything is okay, I thank God for that.

Sharon has lived in Crosbyton most of her life. She went to Crosbyton schools for 12 years and graduated from Crosbyton High School, and then went to Texas Tech University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. She taught school for 39 years, 33 of those years in Crosbyton Elementary before retiring. Her parents were Fred and Dorthy McDougle, and she has a younger brother and an older half-brother, plus two nieces and five great nieces and nephews.

Sharon attributes prayer for getting her through the cancer experience. In addition, her family encouraging her and the visits with her cousin which helped take her mind off of things were so important. Her church family was also an encouragement.  She says, “If it wasn’t for God, family and friends I could not have gotten through it. Sharon listened to Christian music on the way to and from Lubbock for treatments and reading one of her favorite Bible chapters, Psalm 23, also helped.

In her free time, Sharon enjoys shopping, reading, a little sewing, and going to Book Club once a month. She participates in Delta Kappa Gamma activities once a month for chapter meetings and goes to conventions in the summer. Her mother was her role model, and Sharon said that she was her best friend. They enjoyed doing a lot of things together, some being traveling and going to shop at Outlet Malls.

Sharon said the best advice she has ever received was, “Always do your best in everything you do and complete what you start.” Sharon added, “God has gotten me through a lot of things and cancer was one of them. When I found out I had cancer I was not upset because I knew that I could handle this with the help of the Lord. It was easy for me as I continued my daily routines. I would even go shopping after my treatments. I thanked God every day for the success I had with this Bladder Cancer and that it wasn't any worse than it was. God is always in control; we just need to remember that.”

Kerry Morrison

Kerry Morrison is from near Lorenzo, just SE of the community of Robertson in Crosby County. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in October of 2007. She found a lump while in the shower and called immediately for a doctor’s appointment.  She had a Bi-Lateral Mastectomy in November and started chemo on New Year’s Eve of 2007.  She celebrated 16 years of being in remission in October of last year!

A lot of prayer, faith, a positive attitude, a wonderful Oncologist at Southwest Cancer Center at UMC, her husband, Tom who is her rock, her family and a huge group of friends and other family members that she adores are all what got her through the cancer experience. When Kerry first met her oncologist, Dr Cobos, the first time in his office, he had this phrase framed on his desk and it became her mantra and it still is, and she has it framed and is on her desk to this day, “I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid.  Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.”  – Nadia Comaneci

Kerry was born to educator parents in Levelland and raised in Dimmitt until she was six. She graduated from Texas Tech University where she met her husband Tom, who was raised in Crosby County, graduated from Lorenzo High and from Texas Tech. They live on a farm where Tom’s grandfather homesteaded in 1895. They moved to the farm in 1988 and took over the operations of the Farm/Ranch when Tom’s dad and they have lived there ever since. She and Tom have been married for 40 years and have a beautiful family, one daughter Ashley,  one son Braydan, their spouses and five grandchildren ranging in age from 22 down to four, including four grandsons and one granddaughter.  We also have two dogs, Minnie and Jingles, and two cats, Gertie H and Chica.  Tom still ranches and she still works as a rep for Mud Pie.

In her free time, Kerry enjoys cooking, gardening, especially herbs which she uses to cook with, spending time with her family and grandchildren, and travelling.

She has lots of role models and says, “There are too many wonderful women that I know personally and am friends with to mention. They are all strong women that believe in themselves and make it a mission to believe in and build up other women they know.” Her best advice is, “Never be afraid to be yourself, that is how God made you.”

Elva Munoz

Elva Munoz is a life-long resident of Crosbyton. Here is her cancer story in her own words. On January 25, 2005, I went in for a routine mammogram, and the radiologist saw

Dr. Ronaghan and was scheduled for an excisional biopsy for breast cancer, stage one. I proceeded with treatment and had both chemo and radiation. Although I was devastated by cancer, a great surprise  awaited me when I was walking to my 2nd floor classroom and there was a huge pink ribbon on the door. There were pink ribbons everywhere and a bouquet of bandanas in every color. All the students and staff were wearing bandanas and congregated to wish me well! I would like to thank Jacque James, who at the time was the High School Librarian, for planning this. The Middle School staff also had a pink party for me where I had a chance to get together and visit with my co-workers.

In October 2010, in honor of my 5th year celebration of being cancer free, Crosbyton High School held its first “Crosbyton Goes Pink” campaign. Students sold over 450 t-shirts and received donations from local businesses which led to a donation of approximately $2,700 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The festivities started with an awareness assembly on Thursday, then a balloon release after the pep rally on Friday, followed by a public service announcement at the game on Friday, along with distribution of Breast Cancer Awareness brochures.

Getting me through this experience were my husband, Ruben, my sons, and my friend, Tracy Hugg who were there for me every step of the way. My sister was diagnosed about five years after me and I was able to be there for her and talk with her about what and how she was feeling and tried to give some comfort. Many times, she would call me back the following day and tell me how much it helped her. I strive to help others who are diagnosed with breast cancer and try to bring some comfort and answers to questions.

Prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer, I hardly ever wore pink, and now I seem to have a closet full of pink! Every time I see the pink clothes, shoes, jewelry, and other items that people have given me, it reminds me that I have had an awesome support group and with their encouragement I made through a valley in my life. Now I am on a mountain top shouting “Hallelujah, Hooray, I made it!”

Elva is married to Ruben, and they have four sons including Carlos, Cris, Marcos and Mario. In her spare time, she likes spending time with family. The best advice she ever received was, “Cancer is temporary!”. She saw this poem in her doctor’s office and has used it for inspiration:

Cancer is so limited

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith

It cannot remove peace

It cannot destroy confidence

It cannot kill friendship

It cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul

It cannot reduce eternal life

It cannot quench the spirit

It cannot lessen the power of resurrection

Our greatest enemy is not disease, but despair

Keep trusting God’s love

so your spirit will remain strong

 If cancer has invaded your life,

 refuse to let it touch your spirit

 Your body can be severely afflicted

 and you may have great struggle,

 But if you keep trusting God’s love,

 your spirit will remain strong.

Cherry Pittcock

Cherry Pittcock is from Aspermont and has had breast cancer. Here is her cancer story in her own words.  I had breast cancer 5 years ago. It was discovered during a routine mammogram in November 2018. After the biopsy confirmed it was cancer, the doctors assured me it wasn’t a death sentence…it was just something we had to take care of and move on with life! I had a lumpectomy in January of 2019,  and my lymph nodes were clear–yay!! I started chemo on Valentine’s Day, had treatments every three weeks, finishing up on my 50th birthday in April. Then I did radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks, making the 120-mile round trip to Abilene every day. 

Family, friends, and prayer partners got me through the experience. My cousin, Tammy, who was a model last year, shared notes from her experience to ease my fears of the unknown. My family met me for every doctor appointment, and we had a fun lunch each time. My ‘sisters in spirit’ (a group of close friends) and their husbands cooked supper for us and had us over to play games. Other friends took us to ball games, and my teacher friends put together care packages for treatment days and helped in class preparation on many occasions! A strong support system is crucial! I clung to the verse, “She confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her.” Psalm 112:7

I grew up in Guthrie  My grandad had the Texaco station on the curve! My dad had a trucking business and hauled cattle and livestock feed ingredients; my mom taught Family and Consumer Sciences in Guthrie for her entire teaching career, over 30 years. My husband works in the oil field as a salesman for Harbison-Fischer and we raise cattle on the family ranch. One of my daughters lives in Throckmorton with her husband and one year old son, Thomas. She is the County Extension Agent, FCS, in Haskell County. My youngest daughter lives in East Bernard, TX with her husband and 20-month-old son, True. She works for Coca Cola as a space planner. 

In her free time Cherry loves hanging out with her husband, Jimmy, feeding cattle or dancing to western swing music! She also works in a quilt shop and loves to sew. She most admires her mom. She is also a cancer survivor–Hodgkins’ disease, 33 years ago! She says, “Her grace and positive attitude throughout her journey served as a perfect example for me as I entered mine.” The best advice she has ever received came from her dad who said, “If you are not happy where you are, you won’t be happy somewhere else. You have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy around others.”

Beth Pratt

Beth Pratt is a life-long Floydada resident. Here is her cancer story in her own words. My breast cancer diagnosis was in December of 1996. The spot was too small to be noticed on an exam but informed by biopsy, and treatment began in 1997 with a mastectomy. I like to say that the doctor put my tummy on my chest, where it looks much better! How that came about is a good story! The right breast tissue was removed and replaced with abdominal fat tissue tumbled up from a naval incision. What amazed me was there were no scars to be seen! The assisting surgeon said he had never done so much stitching for six hours straight. The surgery also involved moving a shoulder muscle to provide new blood supply for the moved tissue. I was aware of the new procedure because I read a lot and have since high school been interested in medicine. I was so fortunate to be able to have the surgery at UMC rather than going to Houston. I never felt that I had suffered a loss or disfigurement. For a day or two, most of the younger guys in the newsroom looked me in the chest before looking me in the eye, which amused me.

I came home from the surgery with an attached drain for a couple of weeks but had no pain. I could not reach the drains and my husband, A.C., was afraid to do it, so my sister-in-law, a school teacher came every morning before school to do it for me. I started chemo a couple of months later. It usually knocked me out for a couple of days after each treatment. The staff at the newsroom were all kind about filling in for me when I had to be out for treatment for chemo on Fridays.

The surgeon that performed this unusual surgery had come from California to Lubbock to care for his aging parents, staying for about five years until his parents passed away, returning to California. I remember he was part of a young doctors’ group that formed a musical quintet playing different instruments.

As far as helping me get through this, it was two or three of Lubbock's finest women who told me about this type of surgery, and about what to do about my hair with chemo. The best thing that ever happened to me through this experience was their sharing of knowledge and experience. I went through the all the stages, including fear and grief, but looking back in retrospect I realize God guided me all the way with just the right person stepping in as needed to offer information and guidance. It was a blessing too that my youngest granddaughter was born about three months after all the treatment was done! My step-grandmother died of breast cancer when I was a young teenager, before there were treatments available. Then, as I had gained strength, in 0ct. 2001, the AJ sent me to Rome to cover the restored religious art to its first showing at Tech. My daughter-in-law from Mexico went with me. She was able to translate when I needed help with modern technology because she could translate. The manager of the Internet Cafe at the Vatican turned out to be a Spanish-speaking student training at the Vatican! All along the way, God has provided such beautiful surprises to enable me to make it through difficult circumstances.

I was born on Nov. 17, 1938, at a Lubbock hospital, and was taken home to a small farm near Floydada that my dad had been convinced to purchase in January of 1929. He ended up having to go to the Hondo Valley in New Mexico to pick beans during the depression to make his land payments. He did not believe in borrowing money to start with, and he never did it again until after the long drought in the 1950s and did it because it was the only way he could have an irrigation well drilled. He said he would never borrow money again, and he did not. What we could not afford, we did without!

I married a farm boy, A.C., who lived about seven miles from Floydada, following graduation from Floydada in 1957, and the year of the great May flood. My aunt had to bring my wedding dress from Lubbock, where she lived, around through Crosbyton and Dickens because the canyon road from Ralls was flooded. My parents and two younger brothers had to carry the wedding cake made by mother and all our clothes out for the wedding. They waded around a playa lake and met us on the other side. My aunt in Dougherty was just a half mile from the church and was to host the reception, but "streets" were not paved except for the one to the church and school, so my aunts got together and moved all the reception food to the church's largest Sunday school space. My Aunt Thelma brought fresh pink roses from her yard in Floydada to decorate the cake. Jacque Crawford James, a Crosbyton icon now, was my flower girl!

I went to Texas Tech, graduating in December 1983. I was a regular writer for the Church Library magazine produced in Nashville, Tenn., and a workshop leader on church library promotion. I had worked about three months at Texas Instruments when the Avalanche-Journal's Burle Pettit called me to come in for an interview for religion editor at the A-J. One thing led to another -- never worry, God will direct you better than you can direct yourself! I retired from the A-J 25 years later, but a month later, they called to ask me to continue writing a faith column, which I am still doing today at the age of eighty-five! We have three sons, Russ, Kerry, and Robert: three granddaughters, and four great-grands!

Tyler Reese

Tyler Reese is from Savage, which is six miles southwest of Ralls. He tells his cancer story in his own words. I have Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma. It damages bones, kidneys, immune system, and red blood cell count. I began having pain in my middle back in the summer of 2022. I had kidney stones in the past, in my late twenties, and I was always able to pass them. The pain was in a similar location as the stones, and a doctor more than 20 years ago told me I might have them again someday, so I tolerated the pain, thinking it would get better. In January of 2023, I began experiencing mild paralysis in my legs, so off to the ER we went. It was not but a few hours before I was told my condition was obvious from the x rays:  lesions on my bones. It was Multiple Myeloma.

Due to my stubbornness and complacency, I would have been paralyzed within days, from my mid back down, including kidneys as well, plus the other bathroom function. Two days after my admittance to the hospital, I underwent spinal fusion surgery. My T-8 vertebrae was close to complete failure. My T-9 was half damaged, so I now have rods and bolts from T-6 to T-11.

My oncologist was a young go-getter and together, we chose an aggressive chemo regimen. The surgery was successful, but I could not undergo chemo treatment until I had recovered and was free from any problems. I was young, and in good health, with a healthy weight and low blood pressure. It was hoped I would tolerate it well.

The aggressive chemo was a mess. I was also undergoing radiation on some pain I was again having in my back. This was late April of last year. My father was calling and texting, I did not answer. He came over to check on me and found me unresponsive. The ambulance came; I remember a couple minutes then nothing for two and one-half weeks. I had no symptoms and had felt fine prior to this. They discovered at the hospital that I was septic, with double pneumonia and multi-organ failure. I was in a coma, and my family was told there was no hope, and to start planning my funeral, but I pulled through! It was thought there was no way I could survive dialysis, but they went ahead and tried. I recovered and my kidneys started working! I was given vasopressors for an extended period. I had extremely low blood pressure, and they needed to keep my blood in my core, so as a result, when I was finally released from the hospital, my toes had died and turned black. I went back to the hospital for the amputation of all my toes about a month later.  My mobility issues are a result of spinal compression due to my failing vertebrae, and of course the loss of my toes. I can walk without a cane, although I tend to use it to be safe. Oddly, I have never fallen. Runway modeling is not a problem! I might just be a little slow, but there was a time I could have been wheelchair bound my whole life, or unable to walk unassisted. I am fortunate in so many ways. Fortunate just to be here, really.

There is no cure for multiple myeloma. Stem cell transplant is my best hope for long term remission. I have an appointment at UT Southwestern in April to discuss the procedure. My family history is full of cancer. My mother passed away from a brain tumor in 2009. The cancer started in her lungs, although she never smoked. Both grandmothers had breast cancer in the 1960’s. Cancer never returned to my paternal grandmother, but it did, however, return to my maternal grandmother as bone cancer. I was fifteen when she passed.

 God, prayer, faith, and hope got me through this experience. I have the best friends in the entire world. When I got home from being in a coma, my friends rallied and created the most beautiful house I could EVER imagine coming home to. “Togetherness is key to all of this,” is a statement I live by. I believe in good, positive connections. This is where my past addiction issues come into the story, but there is no time here to really get into that. I speak about it to groups around Lubbock from time to time, so it is certainly not something I am uncomfortable about discussing;  quite the contrary. What I do know, if I had not straightened up back in 2020, and began taking life more seriously, and sober, I would be dead right now. There is no way I would have been able to take care of myself or been able to be my own best advocate, which is crucial in cancer treatment. My family has been amazing. I have the best dog ever, Harold!

I grew up in Ralls, graduating in the class of 1988, and went on to graduate from Baylor University in 1992. Having been raised on a cotton farm, I swore I would never come back and never farm, but “Here I am, and I love it!”  My father, Jesse remarried, and his stepmom is Sherre. My brother Brent passed suddenly in late July of 2023. My sister-in-law is Elisha. I have nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and nephews. I have a brother, Zane, and his wife Tammy.

I love my job and am somehow able to at least supervise and teach. Every day, I can get more active, and assist more physically with repairs. I drive a tractor, and I ask my fellow farmers for advice because I can never learn enough. People around here are amazingly helpful. In my free time I enjoy yard work and gardening. I enjoy reading but do not get around to it as much as I like. Starting a book is challenging for me. In my previous days, I enjoyed jogging, the gym, and snow skiing; those are all my future goals now. I love road trips and plane trips too. Dinner or just hanging out with friends is a real treat.

My role model is my mother. She went through a horribly challenging time in her last years, but she managed it all with grace, style, bravery, composure, and dignity. She was a real, genuine, old school Southern Lady, and she was a true warrior in her battle with cancer. The best advice I have ever received  came from her, “Observe. Do not judge.”  Sometimes this is hard, but it helps pull me through a lot of situations. I have learned to enjoy every moment as best I can, just as she tried to do.

Rita Reyes

Rita Reyes lives in Crosbyton and was diagnosed last year with cancer in her kidney. It started with chronic kidney disease and led up to cirrhosis of the liver. After being in the hospital and feeling like she was basically living there, her kidney got better. However, her liver was functioning at only 10%  and the doctors gave her six months to live. She went for a checkup and that's when they spotted something else and it was tested, and it turned out that she had cancer in her kidneys, as well.

Rita then made the decision, based on her faith in God, not to do chemo. Rita continued praying and asking God to heal her. When she went back for a regular checkup, her doctor said that she was a warrior because she should have still been alive due to the circumstances.

Today she is strong and doing great! Her cancer has not spread and she's thankful to still be alive, spending time with her family and friends! She says, “God and my family have really helped me though these times.” Her community has also been such a big help in supporting her. Her faith in God keeps her going, even when she feels helpless. When Rita has these helpless feelings, she says that she prays and God gives her the strength she needs. Playing a particular song has helped Rita during this cancer journey, and is by Leslie Grace, "No Te Rindas", which means Don’t Give Up!

Rita was born in San Perlita, TX, and moved to Crosbyton 46 years ago. She has been married to Jose Reyes for 56 years. They have eight beautiful children, 22 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. In her spare time, Rita loves crocheting, baking, and spending time with friends and family. Her best quote is, “If you keep your faith in God, He will help you conquer anything!”
 

Tina Schoepf

Tina Schoepf is a life-long Lorenzo resident and has had cancer three times. She had a complete hysterectomy in 1992 at the age of 31 due to irregular pap smears, polyps, and scaring in her uterus, causing severe pain and irregular bleeding. In 1997, at the age of 34 she went in for a regular gynecology appointment. Her doctor wanted to get an early scan of her breasts because she had to have the hysterectomy so early in life, and they found a cluster of fibrocystic carcinomas on site. She had two surgeries on her breast to be sure they took all the cancerous tissue that had developed. When she was given the anesthesia, she found out she was deathly allergic to it so that brought on a delay of having the surgery, but only for a few hours and still had the surgery that day.

The third time Tina had cancer was in  November of 2017 at the age of 57. She had a regularly scheduled colonoscopy but missed the appointment.  She rescheduled it for the summer of 2018. After she came out of the procedure the doctor walked in and patted me on the hand and said, “I wished you had not missed your last appointment, I really wish you could have come in because you have stage 3 colon cancer.” Talk about a shocker! She began to wonder if the devil's was trying to snuff her out! She had to have surgery and God prevailed. She did not have to have chemo or radiation this time, having had to have them previously.

Explaining how she got through her cancer battle Tina said, “I have had wonderful doctors every time and God opened every door for me. Was I scared? Absolutely! Did I cry? Yes, I did. Did everyone believe me? No but that was okay because I knew that God had a purpose and a reason for me to go through this so many times. Sometimes I felt like I was being a big sissy girl and other times I felt like I did not think I could make it through, but mostly I tried to keep my spirits up by singing and listening to Christian music and being outside in God's world on my porch swing. Sometimes it's easier to want to hide from the world and pretend like everything is the same as it always was, I hate change, and my life changed each time, but I would like to think that with each cancer diagnosis, I got closer to God, His word and being able to pray for and understand better what was going on with others like me. I wanted to give back, so I started donating blood because I have O-negative blood, which is a universal blood. The second time around I started donating my hair for wigs to help those ladies who have lost their hair. The last time I had cancer I decided and promised God  to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment, living for Him by being active in my prayers, and Bible study, and enjoying as much time with my family as possible. I do not want to have any regrets. God has given me the opportunity to be a better wife, mom, grandmother, sister, friend.” Tina’s sustaining song was "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns. She loved this scripture, “The hard things we may be going through now are really nothing in comparison to the glory that will be revealed in us later.” Romans 8:17-18

Tina married her high school sweetheart, Bryan who passed away last year. They had three children, Allen Matthew, and Tamara. She says her boys married two beautiful sweethearts, Mary and Melissa, both from this area. Tina has six grandchildren, five boys and one girl, plus two dogs and several cats. Tina loves to be outside planting flowers, sitting on the porch swing, being with her grandkids, movies on Friday night with her sister and best friend, and just staying active.  Tina says God is her role model and has been with her through it all and never wavered. She says, “His love and passion are more than I could ever deserve. There is nothing that I can do to ever understand how He could love me so much that He died for me.” Bryan was the support system that took her to every appointment and was there when she needed someone the most. No matter how stressful their lives would get, he told her that it would be alright, and says that she is truly blessed! Tina was scheduled to be in the style show last year and instead was with Bryan in his last moments. The best advice Tina has ever received is, “Never give up, and if you feel like you're about to quit, call someone who will pray for you and let you vent.”  Tina added a quote from Corrie Ten Boom: “Pearls are a product of pain, the result of a foreign or unwanted substance entering the oyster, such as a parasite or a grain of sand. The inside of an oyster shell is a shiny substance called "nacre." When a grain of sand enters, the nacre cells go to work and cover the grain of sand with layers and more layers to protect the defenseless body of the oyster. As a result, a beautiful pearl is formed! The more pearls, the more valuable.

God never allows pain without a purpose. What if your greatest ministry to others comes out of your greatest hurt or deepest wounds?”

Donna Stephens

Donna Stephens is a resident of Hale Center and had breast cancer. She went for her annual checkup in November of 2016 and had a mammogram, and after being called back for a second check they discovered a malignant spot through a biopsy and lumpectomy. She had already had a lumpectomy on the same breast in 1999, so when she was told that the lump was highly diseased and the chances were high for it to strike in her other breast, Donna made the decision to have a double mastectomy. Thankfully, it had not spread to the lymph nodes. The doctor said, “If you have a double mastectomy, you can rest assured you will never get breast cancer again.” Donna says she had some grief, reminiscent of when she had a hysterectomy at age 31. She elected not to have reconstructive surgery. She had a grandson that was a senior that year and she did not want to be tied down so she could follow all his activities.

            Donna attributes her faith and her family for getting her through the cancer experience. When offered treatment options, she wanted to stay close to home and her church family, and was thankful she could have the procedure in Lubbock. She says, “The Lord put people in the places that I needed. Prayer warriors were always at work. The Lord was holding on to my hand, and I knew either way I was going to be with Him. I did not ask why. I had a peace that was nothing but divine. I felt His presence!”

            Donna grew up in Levelland and Seminole and has lived 28 years in Hale Center. She met her husband, Herb who was from Turkey at West Texas. They have two sons, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild. She was an elementary school teacher for 31 years in five different districts. When she retired, she signed up to volunteer at the Compassionate Care Pregnancy Center in Plainview. She had driven past there for years and had always had a desire to just walk in and start talking to pregnant women. Her second son was adopted, and she wanted to share with pregnant women about the blessing of adoption. Donna says this opportunity is one of the most precious gifts the Lord has ever given her, collaborating with pregnant women.

            There are so many people Donna admires who are good friends with big hearts. One friend who had suffered from cancer was especially important when the first lump was found in 1999. She has battled alongside her husband as he had thyroid cancer in 2008 and 2012. Her best advice came from her mother who said, “If you have your health, anything can be fixed!” Donna and Herb have followed all six grandchildren in every sport throughout their lives and adds, “I’m getting older, but will never be old; old is a mindset!”

Karen Swink

Karen Swink is from Crosbyton and has had breast cancer. She discovered the cancer on Easter of 2007. Karen had chemo and lost all her hair, but following surgery she was cleared. Faith, friends, and lots of prayers helped her through her cancer experience. She loved to say, “No matter what you face in life, don’t let go of God’s hand!”

          Karen was raised in Earth, graduated from Texas Tech in 1975 and moved to Crosbyton. She has a son, Ryon and his wife Jaime and their two children, Koby and Kylee. She has a daughter, Shauna and her husband, Jay Youngblood and they have three children, Nick, Landry, and Owen, totaling five grandkids! Karen taught school for 30 years, twenty-six of those in Crosbyton. Karen has made a huge impact on so many families because she has taught their children or parents! Everyone knows Mrs. Swink!

          In her free time Karen likes reading and getting out and about and  helping other people. She loves spending time with family and tries to make most all her grandkids’ events. She has started working out at the Fitness Center three times a week. She loves  giving homemade soup to friends and family. For years she has had a card ministry. Through a card, a word of encouragement goes a long way. It can comfort those who are sick or grieving, or it can celebrate a joyous occasion. Who does not love getting a card in the mail? The best advice Karen has received is, “Pray when you want to worry. Give thanks when you want to complain. Keep going when you feel like quitting!”

Virginia Torres

Virginia Torres is a life-long resident of Ralls and has had breast cancer two different times, finishing her last radiation treatment on March 25th! The first cancer incident was in 2015 and was discovered during a regular mammogram. A mastectomy on her left breast was performed and it was determined that no other treatment would be needed. Eight years later in 2023, a spot was detected through a mammogram, on her right side. The treatment prescribed was chemo for 6-7 months, and Virginia said it was rough. She lost her hair after the second treatment and often felt very sick, sometimes to the point of not wanting to get up and go. She started wearing scarves and worked to adjust. Following the last chemo treatment, she had a mastectomy and soon started radiation.

Virginia’s family, friends, and nonstop calls and visits from the communities of Lorenzo, Ralls, and Crosbyton helped get her through both cancer experiences. She could feel the prayers that people prayed, and all the songs that were sung at her church, St. Michael’s Catholic Church, gave her strength, as well. One of her brothers, Ernie, went to every treatment with her every time, and her sister attended some too, plus her son and daughter drove her to the appointments and helped. Even her youngest granddaughter attended treatment sessions.

Viginia is the eleventh of a family of 13 children, growing up in Ralls. She worked for Southwestern Public Service for 26 years, and then for Vista Bank for 14 ½ years, retiring in 2011. She and her husband, Felix, will have been married for 50 years in August and have one son and one daughter. Their son and his wife, Frannie have one son, their grandson who is in the Air Force Academy. Her daughter, Karen and her husband, Clint Yocum have three children, two girls, and a boy. The oldest daughter is a senior at OK Panhandle State University where she is currently serving as the Queen! Virginia’s four grandchildren are the light of her life!

In her spare time, Virginia loves to read, sew, and cook. She also has served on the Ralls School Board for 18 years, and the Crosby County Appraisal District for 12 years. She conducts early voting for elections, and is very active at her church, and in the women’s organization. Virginia most admires her mother who raised 13 children and was very smart! As a child she kept the books in her dad’s store and had a head for numbers. Virginia tells the story that as a sophomore in high school she was having trouble with geometry and her mother came over and helped work on all the problems for her! After grading her homework, the next day at school, the math teacher, Mr. Humprey, asked her how she got all the problems correct, and she answered that her mother had helped her. He said, “Well they are all correct, but you have to show your work on how you got the answer!” She realized then her mother was smart! She continues to follow the wisdom her mother gave her at a young age, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. This was a phrase her mother lived by, too.

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