33ºF

North Carolina breast cancer patient travels to Roanoke Valley for treatment

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This weekend local men and women will be running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, raising money to fight breast cancer.

It's a cause that's close to one North Carolina woman's heart, as she's been traveling back and fourth to the Roanoke Valley to receive treatment.

Linda McConnell and her husband, Johnny, live in Raleigh, North Carolina, home to several major medical centers and medical schools. But when Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer, she only thought about one doctor-- a medical student that she and her husband had invited to live with them during his residency three decades ago, Dr. Bob Williams.

"They took me in sight unseen and were just the most loving and caring people I had ever met," says Dr. Williams, with LewisGale Regional Health Systems. "Thirty years later, I got a call from Johnny that his wife has breast cancer and they needed some help."

So Linda and Johnny began traveling back and fourth to the Roanoke Valley to receive treatments from their longtime friend. Linda says the Roanoke Valley quickly became a second home to her. The three hour drive back and fourth was time that she and her husband spent talking, like they hadn't in years. She even described it as almost a second honeymoon.

Then, three months ago, Linda received the good news she had been waiting for-- she was cancer free.

"When he said those words... I had mixed feelings," says Linda. "I've loved coming here. [Dr. Williams] said, 'You can come back if you want to come back.'"

And she did come back, earlier this week, to tell her story and continue the fight against breast cancer at the Susan G. Komen Circle of Hope breakfast on Tuesday morning. She was there with Dr. Williams and two other doctors that have been heavily involved in her treatment, a group she lovingly refers to as her "Dream Team."

"They are a team," says Linda. "The oncologist, radiologist and the surgeon, it is so obvious how they work together. I had a personal relationship with Dr. Bob, but I noticed how they cared for every person that walked into that hospital. That just touched my heart so much."

Tuesday's breakfast is part of a series of events, including this weekend's Race for the Cure, that raise money to fight breast cancer right here in the Roanoke Valley.

"This raises a huge amount of money that stays here in the community," says Dr. Williams. "We're able to find breast cancer in women that could not afford it, treat women and frankly save a lot of lives with the fundraising that's done though Race for the Cure and all of the events that Komen does."

Money from last year's Race for the Cure provided free screenings for women in our area, that eventually led to twenty new cases of breast cancer being diagnosed. Dr. Williams says that's something that may not have happened without that extra money.

If you're interested in learning more about Race for the Cure and Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge, click here.