‘I have too much to live for’

Published 7:29 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ann Brooks, a 12-year breast cancer survivor, sits at her desk at Lockhart’s Zorn Brothers. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

Ann Brooks is a committed woman.

It shows in her dedication to her family, her work and to her survival after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

For all of her adult life, Brooks had never missed an annual check up, and because of it, she’s alive today.

“I can sit right here and tell you how important those annual doctors’ visits are,” Brooks said. “If I hadn’t gone that one time, I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you how important those check ups are.”

It was a Friday, around lunch, some 12 years ago when Brooks traveled to Opp – “by myself,” she added – for a routine annual exam with Dr. Reddick Williams. Just a year earlier, during a previous check up, Dr. Williams found and removed a benign cyst in her breast, the Lockhart resident and 30-plus year employee with Zorn Brothers, said.

“He told me then, not to worry, that scar tissue would probably form, so I never thought about the spot again until the next year,” she said. “All it took was just one touch for him to know something was wrong.”

Williams sent Brooks straight to the hospital for a biopsy.

What they found was stage-two breast cancer, and by Wednesday, she was in surgery for a partial mastectomy, followed by a round of chemotherapy and radiation.

“The doctor told me I might could make it five years,” she said. “My son was in the sixth grade, and I said I just wanted to see him graduate from high school. I was committed to that. I was going to make it and I was not going to let breast cancer get me down.”

It was that commitment that had Brooks back at her desk by Friday after her Wednesday surgery, and that’s where she remained throughout her treatment, which ended March 1998.

Brooks gives dual credit for her recovery – first to God and the rest to herself.

“Part of it too was I couldn’t let (cancer) do that to my family,” she said. “I was strong in my faith. I had too much to live for, and I wasn’t about to lay down and not fight something. You have to stay positive.”

That positive attitude has allowed Brooks to watch as her son Stewart recently celebrated his 25th birthday.

“And there’s going to be lots more of those, too,” she said. “I know it.”