Linda Gallucci-Greeley knows that a mammogram is responsible for finding her breast cancer and potentially saving her life.

“That’s the key to it, you have to be vigilant,” the 76-year-old Windber woman said.

Gallucci-Greeley said her breast cancer diagnosis came two years ago when she went in for a routine mammogram at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center.

“I had just came back from Florida. I sold my place down there – I was a snowbird – and it was a week or two after I came back that I found out,” she said. 

Dr. Deborah Sims sent her for an ultrasound, which was then followed by a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

“The lump was very deep, and I don’t know if a self-exam at that point would have even helped me,” Gallucci-Greeley said.

Hearing that she had breast cancer was scary, but she said as a melanoma cancer survivor that was scarier because medicine has come a long since that first cancer diagnosis in 1978.

In addition, having Sims in her corner gave Gallucci-Greeley much reassurance.

“Dr. Sims is wonderful to deal with, and I love her dearly,” she said. “She’s patient and never rushes you out of there. I think that has a lot to do with it that she’s just that kind of person with you.”

On June 5, 2016, she underwent a lumpectomy on her left breast, followed by 25 radiation treatments.

“Everything went really smoothly for me,” Gallucci-Greeley said. “I worked out at HealthStyles every morning and in the afternoon had the radiation treatments. I was very fortunate.”

Today, she’s living cancer-free and continues to follow up with mammograms on a yearly basis and sees her oncologist every six months.

Gallucci-Greeley credits her three sons and other family and friends as being her support system.

“It was very comforting to not be going through it by yourself,” she said.

She also is a member of a Sole Survivors support group, which is made up of 115 widows who meet on a regular basis to talk about dealing with breast cancer and lend support to those who are going through treatments.

The group meets for a breakfast, lunch and dinner once a month.

They also take day trips doing a variety of activities.

“We’re supportive in many ways; we’re there for each other and have fun,” Gallucci-Greeley said. “We’ve blossomed since the original six, and we just had three new people join us recently.”

Her advice to other women who are battling breast cancer is to keep the faith.

“I’m very strong in my religious faith and you have to pray for the best,” Gallucci-Greeley said. “You have to take it day by day.”

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.