Pat Nowakowski received a horrible surprise 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 who was recommended in Mineral Wells. He advised that she immediately get Graham General Medical Center surgeon Don Behr to perform 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 six treatments of chemotherapy and then a mastectomy. "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. "I cannot say enough about the support I had. Besides my faith in God, the doctors, nurses, friends, church people and community supported me." The level of support for Graham breast cancer victims has helped many women and the few men diagnosed with the disease.

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Besides the support of family and friends, cancer patients also benefit from civic support. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and several Graham entities are rallying around the cause. One group in particular, the Graham Country Club Ladies Golf Association, gained momentum after they played in a golf tournament in Granbury, which was called the Susan B. Komen Rally for the Cure. 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 Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Graham Country Club. "Ladies in the 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. "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.'" "They birthed this baby," Johnson said. "We're calling this our first inaugural tourney, the Susan B. Komen Rally for the Cure." The golf tournament, dubbed the GCCLGA, is the result of many women golfers joining together. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Graham Country Club. The tournament fee is $300 per team of four which includes a breakfast snack after registration at 8 a.m., lunch and a chance to win prizes at holes four, five and eight. Planners hope the tournament will attract 64 players or 16 teams. "It would be helpful if people either organize a team beforehand, or, if someone is needing a team to join, we'll help them put together a team." Contact Johnson by calling 940-659-8407.