SAUCIER, MS (WLOX) - The second most common form of cancer for women is breast cancer, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The nonprofit also says the most common risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older.
Marie Porter, of Gulfport, knows those statistics all too well, because she's alive today and able to tell her story to help others.
Porter, a Subway franchisee, is on the go constantly running her three restaurants. She's always been very active and healthy, but in November of 2007, the then 54-year-old received a diagnosis she wasn't ready for.
"I went in for a routine mammogram, wasn't expecting anything. A couple weeks after the mammogram, I got a phone call from my doctor, who said I needed to see a general surgeon. We had a couple of biopsies done," Porter explained.
Porter was told she had stage one breast cancer.
"I had just sat down in my car in the garage in the hospital and was trying to wrap my mind around it. I had a daughter still at home, and the only thing going through her mind was my mom is going to die, and I was determined that that wasn't going to happen," Porter said.
Porter underwent two surgeries and was told she would need a double mastectomy. She decided to get a second opinion, which is something she encourages others to do also.
She ended up at the UAB Kirklan Clinic Breast Cancer Center in Alabama. Doctors there told her a partial mastectomy and radiation was all she needed.
"My cancer was HER2-positive, which means it's hormone driven. When I told people that, people who know me would say, 'We always knew you were too active. You have too many hormones, too much energy,'" she said.
Over the course of her treatment, Porter continued to run her businesses, even though she said the pain from her radiation treatments intensified.
"It burns your skin. It's like an extremely bad sunburn. Worse than that," she said.
Through it all, she said her support system, made of up of family, church, other cancer survivors, and the man upstairs, kept her going. In 2010 she was given the all clear.
"You just deal with it the best that you possibly can, and if you trust the doctors who are taking care of you, then that's really very important as well," said Porter.
This Saturday, you have a chance to help raise money for breast cancer. It's the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It takes place at Jones Park in Gulfport. Registration for the race starts at 7 a.m.