CONYERS -- A missed mammogram appointment was turned around for the better in Lura Whitaker's fight against breast cancer.
The Covington woman pushed her regularly scheduled mammogram in April 2001 until the end of August that year. Doctors found a small lump in her left breast and Williams said, since then, her whole experience with the disease was "directed by God."
"I'm very, very fortunate because it was very small. They found it really early," Whitaker said. "I've always felt like had I not postponed that mammogram, it may have gone undetected. I feel like things happened just as they were supposed to."
She went through 35 radiation treatments, every day for seven weeks, and is cancer-free today. Her radiation treatments were in Newton County and Whitaker went through lumpectomy surgery in Rockdale.
But she still remembers her shock after the biopsy when she was told she would need to come in to speak with the doctor.
"You know, for the first 24 hours we thought the world as we had knew it had ended," Whitaker said.
It really hit home when she and her husband, Glenn, went to an American Legion convention in Texas and there was talk of holding the event in Hawaii in the next three or four years.
"You could have poured cold water on my face because at that point, I didn't know what I was facing. And I thought, 'I might not be here in five years,'" Whitaker said.
She described how her diagnosis was especially difficult for her husband, as his mother and grandmother died from breast cancer.
Whitaker's strong faith helped her come to what she described as an "amazing" peace and where she said that "It was going to be OK." She said her way of coping with the diagnosis was "just let God take control."
"And He did. And I'm so thankful," Whitaker said.
While her success story started with a missed appointment, Whitaker still encourages women to get their regular mammograms on time. Women should know there is hope after a breast cancer diagnosis, according to Whitaker.
"A diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence," Whitaker said. "There's so much they can do now."
Whitaker encourages people not to put off their dreams and ambitions. For her and her husband, RV road trips were their dream.
"This is what we decided we'd do in however much time we had after the cancer diagnosis," Whitaker said. "The lesson that came out of it was don't put off what you want to do. Do it now."
The couple has been to every state except Hawaii in their camper and recently returned from a 86,000-mile trip in Canada.
But Lura, a grandmother of three, jokingly said she has to go home every few weeks for her "kid-fix."
"They are what keep me going," she said of her grandchildren.
She and her husband have two adult sons and one adult daughter. One child recently surprised them with the news of another grandchild on the way.
"My family is the best. The best," Whitaker said. "I am blessed beyond belief with my family."