STANTON, Iowa. (KMTV) — In July, Stacy Hart had her annual physical with her physician and she had a clean bill of health. But she later found a mass on her left breast during a breast self-exam.
"Just kind of spiraled from there, I had a mammogram and ultrasound done which was suspicious and I saw a surgeon the next day," Hart said. "We did a biopsy and since then, a week later, I met with an oncologist. I'll be having my third chemo next week."
Hart credits her breast self-exam for saving her life.
"I was numb, like you don't ever want to hear the word cancer, and knowing that if I wouldn't have done my home breast exam at that time, I would have waited till my mammogram next year. It probably would have been terminal cancer," she said.
The devoted mother admits treatment is rough.
"This last treatment, I did have an allergic reaction to one of the chemo drugs, so it's just kind of been a long haul," Hart said.
But she remains a stronghold for her loved ones.
"Every day I get up and fight, I have three kids that are watching me fight, I'll do anything to stay alive for them," Hart said.
The community of Stanton has also been a source of comfort for her during these trying times.
"The community had a benefit for me on Saturday night and they fed over 600 people and just seeing everybody there that is praying for me and supporting me and thinking of us daily and my family. It's just been completely overwhelming," Hart said.
Hart still has four treatments of chemotherapy to go, but this caregiver already has a mission she wants to fulfill.
"Paying it forward. I want to pay it forward. I want to be there for anyone else that's going through this," Hart said.
She's a nurse at heart and survivor by will.
"Get up every day and just put that smile on your face. Be that change in the community," Hart said. "Be that happy person, tell people they look good, tell them thank you for things. Give what you can and always be the better person."
After chemotherapy, Hart will undergo a double mastectomy. She also wants to encourage women to consistently do their breast self-exams and not wait to do those annual ones.