GHENT, WV (WVNS)– In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 59News is retelling the brave stories of women in the area who’ve battled the disease. One of the first stories featured Patricia Cooper and her message about testing early for breast cancer.

“I rang the bell on June 14, 2023,” said Cooper. She then raised up a meaningful certificate she received from the Tri-State Regional Cancer Center, signifying her accomplishment. “This is my certificate of appreciation for going through three weeks of radiation therapy.” 

The certificate was awarded to her for completing the “prescribed course of radiation therapy with the highest degree of courage, determination and good nature.”

Cooper’s breast cancer diagnosis first came in January 2023; a hurdle she never saw coming after receiving her first ever mammogram. 

“I waited late to get my first mammogram… my first mammogram was when I was 55 years old,” she said. 

Afterwards, the doctors promptly told her something was off. Cooper was shocked to learn she would need an ultrasound and a biopsy, and even more so when they discovered she had breast cancer.

“Oh my god, it’s cancer. The big ‘C’ word- it’s scary,” Cooper divulged.

Cooper said having a support system is what helped carry her through her cancer journey. 

“If I didn’t have a husband to hold my hand and look me right in my eyes and say, ‘we just need to take the next step and see what happens. We are in this together’… I don’t know how far I would have progressed. I may have shut down.” 

She said she also saw signs from a late friend that told her to keep pushing. 

“My best friend was named Hughes, her last name was Hughes,” said Cooper. “My doctor’s last name for the surgery was also Hughes…it felt like someone upstairs said, ‘here is your sign, go through these steps, make the next step.’” 

Now that she is on the other side of her cancer, she wants to encourage others not to wait like she did. 

Cooper said catching it early is so important. She suggested speaking to family members and to get genetic testing so you and your children know their health history as soon as possible. 

“Get tested. Get tested early and get tested often,” said Cooper. 

Cooper mentioned she may not totally be in the clear, as the cancer was only on her right side, but she feels prepared to fight if it comes to it.

“It’s discomfort, but it’s livable, and I have SO much more to do,” said Cooper. “(It’s like) Robert Frost with his poem- and I have miles to go before I sleep.”