Longview, Texas (KETK) — Receiving the news that you have cancer or that a loved one has cancer sends your body through a myriad of emotions. Bobby Jo Walker, an 88-year-old resident of Buckner Westminster Place, has received this news twice in her life and has survived both instances of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that 39,620 women will die from breast cancer this year. Bobby Jo hopes that by sharing her story, she can help generate awareness, encourage women to give themselves regular self-exams and provide people who have breast cancer or have loved ones with breast cancer a little encouragement during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“I did not have much time to react when I found out I had cancer,” said Walker. “The very day I found out, my doctor told me that I would need to be at the hospital at 8 o’clock the next morning for surgery. I did not have time to discuss it with anyone. The full realization of what was going on and what had happened did not hit me until after the surgery was complete. I looked like I had railroad tracks running down my side after they stitched me back up. It was a radical surgery decision; they had taken 32 nodes from my body to make sure it was all gone. The surgery took care of the cancer for 30 years and then it came back on the other side, so I had to have surgery again.”
Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1973, seven years after her husband had passed. She was very concerned about her teenage son, the youngest of four children, and who would care for him if she did not make it. She was worried about leaving the responsibility of rearing him on her parents. Walker also had things in life that she wanted to complete and this troubled her as well. When she was diagnosed, she was in the middle of planning a 50th wedding anniversary for her parents. She was morose at the thought of not being able to finish putting together the special celebration.
“The second time I was diagnosed, which was in 2003, I did not feel scared about it,” expressed Walker. “At that point in my life, I felt like it was out of my hands. I had the support of my family and faith in God and that’s all I really needed. When I look back on my life, I am able to see that God led me step by step through every obstacle. I feel truly blessed to have survived breast cancer twice and to have overcome other obstacles life has presented. The main thing for getting through these obstacles is staying as positive as you can. You cannot dwell on your situation or it will only make it more miserable. I advise you to find a project, volunteer work and something else to put your time into. It will help take your mind off of things.”
Walker gives inspirational speeches from time to time and recently delivered one to fellow seniors at Buckner Westminster Place. She recommends that women give themselves self-exams regularly to try and detect breast cancer before it is too late. Walker also supports DNA testing to see if those diagnosed can pass it on to the generations following them. She also thinks exercising and staying active are imperative to maintaining good health. Walker believes that exercising can help prevent breast cancer and can help speed the recovery for those that have been diagnosed with it.
“I am so happy there are support groups and fundraisers that aid research to find cures for cancer. I support any cause that aims to find a cure for deadly diseases,” said Walker. “It is so important to save lives and save our loved ones.”
“We are so fortunate that Bobby Jo is willing to share her experiences, advice and inspiration with other residents and people in the community,” said Wes Wells, executive director of Buckner Westminster Place. “She has truly brightened this community with her positive attitude and motivational talks. Not only does she seek to help others through positive words, she leads exercise classes for her neighbors and volunteers regularly. We appreciate all that she does to make this community a better place.”
If you are interested in setting up an interview with Bobby Jo Walker, please email firstname.lastname@example.org  or call Lauren Witt at (214) 890-7912 ext. 42.