Sarah "Sally" White

Sarah "Sally" White is shown at her home in Adams Township.

Sarah “Sally” White describes herself as an active and healthy outdoorswoman.

Living on a small spread on Elton Road in Adams Township, White is always busy caring for two horses, a pony, a donkey, 12 chickens, three goats, two barn cats and two dogs.

Life changed when, in July 2016, a routine mammogram showed “something.” A biopsy performed by Dr. Patti Ann Stefanick of Johnstown later determined there was cancer in the right breast.

The news hit her hard.

“It knocked the wind out of me,” said White, 60. “I found it hard to believe because I’m outside all the time and I’m active. When you’re first told, it’s a shock.”

Equally shocking was that until about two years ago, there was no family history of breast cancer.

She later found statistics noting that 85 percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

White said Dr. Stefanick performed surgery at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in August 2016. She also had radiation treatment with Dr. David F. Stefanik at John P. Murtha Regional Cancer Center in Johnstown.

“I’m doing very well and the prognosis is good,” White said.

Her battle with cancer underscores how prevalent the disease is.

“You can’t believe how many women you know who have it – so many young women.” White said. “I think cancer touches everybody.”

White considers herself fortunate, because her battle has been less severe than for other women. Many women need chemotherapy, which results in illness and hair loss. White said her niece was diagnosed two years ago with an aggressive form of breast cancer and required chemotherapy.

“My battle with cancer is minimal compared to other women who have gone through so much more,” she said.

She credits family, friends and faith for her ongoing recovery.

Husband George White Jr. and her two grown stepsons, George White III and Jason White, have stood beside her.

Her friends at Davidsville Community Church have supported her.

“My pastor brought me up and they gathered around me and prayed,” White said. “I love my church family. I don’t know how you get through it without faith.”

The blessing continued, she said.

One day, without warning, White said she received a small 4-inch square prayer cloth that had been quilted by members of Westmont Presbyterian Church.

“It showed up in the mail,” she said. 

“Each knot represents a prayer. I keep it with me all the time and keep it pinned to my pillow.

“My faith, family and friends have brought me through this,” White said. 

She’s learned to pray.

“Dear God I can’t handle this myself,” White said. “Help me get through this.” 

She urges women to get routine mammograms.

“The mammogram probably saved my life,” White said. “I’m looking forward to growing old with my husband and my animals.

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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