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For Tonya Watts, there was no reason to feel a routine physical exam in February of 2018 would be anything other than ordinary. She did not feel bad and had no real symptoms of anything being out of the ordinary. But when a small mass was discovered in her breast (too small to have been found with a self exam), it was enough to catch the attention of her attending physician. A mammogram was ordered and a subsequent biopsy was performed. When the results returned, it must have been enough to shake the faith for even a strong minister's wife. The diagnosis was stage two breast cancer that had already spread to Watts' lymph nodes.
For the next year, Watts underwent a combination of treatment regimens, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to battle the cancer inside her body. Cancer treatment can be a grueling undertaking, but Watts says it wasn't as bad for her as it could be. "It was difficult," said Watts. "But I was blessed in that the nausea medicine they gave me helped and I really didn't feel the nausea that most people feel when going through chemotherapy." Even though Watts' cancer had spread, it was found early enough that treatment was successful. This experience prompts Watts to tell everyone to "make sure you go for your yearly exams."
Watts has been cancer-free for a little over a year. She continues to have regular check-ups every six months. Today, she says she feels "wonderful."
Watts says she is also very thankful for the Madison community. "The community had a fundraising dinner for us to help with expenses," said Watts. "We really do have a great community here."
Watts is originally from North Carolina, but has called Madison home since 1998, when her husband, Jackie, became the minister at Fellowship Baptist Church. Watts works at Madison Creative Arts Academy, where she teaches second grade. They have two boys, Caleb and Joshua.