EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - This past week, breast cancer awareness month came to an end. But the story of a family of five survivors is still thriving and evolving to this day.
"I found the lump on a Saturday. I didn't say anything to my husband until Sunday night. Went to the doctor on Monday, he sent me for a mammogram on Tuesday. I got my results on Wednesday. Thursday, they put me in the hospital and I had my surgery on Friday." says Mary Ann Smith, a breast cancer survivor.
Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 46 years old. This was before much of the modern technology we have today, and her treatment was gruesome.
"From the minute they would start the needles, I would start throwing up and I would throw up for two days and I was so sick nothing would stay down. It would last about a week," Smith says. She adds, "It was so different then than it is now. They've come so far and thank God that they have."
Mary Ann kept fighting, and it's a good thing she did. Just 15 years or so later, a niece was also diagnosed with breast cancer, then another niece and two of her sisters. One of them is Dot Bradford.
"I was telling some of my friends, and they said, 'Well I thought when you got to be 75 you didn't have to get mammograms again.' I was 84 when they found mine and I said, 'Well I'm glad I never heard that because if I had not gone, I would still have cancer.'"
Thankfully today, she and her family are all cancer free.
"There's five of us that are survivors and I give God the glory because I do pray about it and He has given me such peace about it," says Bradford.
Smith says, "I would pray to God and the last thing I would say is, 'I won't help dig this hole. I'm going to make it.'"
Back then, Mary Ann had young grandchildren. She says they were her inspiration to keep fighting every day.
"I would always try to plan something. Once I got over the sickness, I would try to plan something special for them. I would do things with them and I savored every day," says Smith.
These sisters, united in their fight, know their faith is what sustained them.
"Prayer is talking to God and that's what you need to do. Just talk to God whatever your circumstances might be," Bradford said.
"I don't think I could have made it through it without the power of prayer. I put all my faith in God and let Him take over," said Smith.
Mary Ann's oldest grandchild is now 35. She also has four great-grandchildren who keep her busy.