Pat Nowakowski received horrible news on her 70th birthday.

"Earlier that week, I found a knot in my breast in the shower during my monthly self-exam," Nowakowski said. “I hadn't had a mammogram for two years.” She consulted a physician in Mineral Wells who advised that she immediately get Graham General Medical Center surgeon Don Behr for a biopsy. 

"I had hardly gotten home when Dr. Behr called and said it was stage III breast cancer,” Nowakowski said. “I was hoping the news would not be bad, but it was." 

After the devastating diagnosis, she began her treatment. “I had six more treatments of chemo and then began 32 straight days of radiation,” Nowakowski said. “The treatment was not as traumatic as others with breast cancer. I saw some of those people coming for treatment who were so sick. My heart just broke for them.”

Nowakowski's entire family rallied around her, which helped her endure the treatment. 

"When I lost my hair, my grandsons shaved their heads," she said. "In fact, the one who lives in the Austin area, when he went back to school with no hair, his friends shaved their heads, too, and sent me a picture.”"

Besides the support of family and friends, cancer patients also benefit from civic support. October is breast cancer Awareness month, and several Graham agencies and organizations are rallying around the cause. One group in particular, the Graham Country Club Ladies Golf Association, is doing its part in the form of a local golf tournament.

Linda Johnson, who became GCCLGA president and publicity chairman in August, said she wants to spread the word about its upcoming Rally for the Cure Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Graham Country Club.

"Ladies in our association began talking about how many friends they had with breast cancer," Johnson said. “There were seven ladies actively fighting breast cancer in their golf association, she said. “Now we have lost the oldest and the youngest of those ladies," Johnson said.

She said that the previous board president, Sharla King, was the first to broach the idea for a rally. 

"Sharla said, ‘Enough is enough," Johnson recalled. "We need to help our sisters. We may be small, but we have a loud voice."

Read the full story in this weekend's edition of the Graham Leader.