Liz Barlow never thought that she would get breast cancer.
She knew the statistics. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Over 40,000 women's lives will be claimed by the disease this year alone. That's why she was so diligent about getting her yearly exams.
But at the age of 45, cancer didn't even seem like a possibility.
Until her nurse practitioner felt a tiny lump in her left breast in the fall of 2005. The nurse that Liz now calls her guardian angel insisted she get a mammogram the very next day. The lump didn't show up on the mammogram and the ultrasound didn't show it, either. The surgeon scheduled a lumpectomy, just to be safe.
At this point, Liz was still convinced she was fine. But the biopsy results from the lump that had been removed told a different story,
"Liz, you have cancer," the surgeon said.
Eight rounds of chemotherapy followed, taking Liz to Jackson every two weeks. Then came the radiation.
"I felt so sick," Barlow said. "I didn't think I could go on. I wondered, 'Will I ever feel normal again?'"
The answer was yes, thanks to her support system and her strong faith in God. Liz's husband, children, friends, and church sustained her through the months of grueling treatment.
"I can tell you exactly where I was when it happened," Barlow said. "I felt this supernatural presence and I just knew I was going to be okay."
And now, she is. Liz is officially cancer-free. She hopes to use her experience as a way to encourage and help others. Her message is one of hope and faith, one of perseverance and strength.
"Get your yearly exams, do your self check exams," she advised. "And if you're diagnosed, it's not going to be easy but it's not the end of the world."
Liz never stopped fighting and now instead of being labeled with that terrifying six letter word, she proudly wears another label: survivor.