As a physical therapist and former Ringgold County Hospital employee, Linda Winkler knows the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. “I’ve always exercised and tried to eat well and maintain my weight,” she said. Along with diet and exercise, she had regular physicals and added annual mammograms when she turned 40. In her early 40s, a mammogram showed a lump in her breast, but luckily, it proved to be benign.
A few years later in 2003, she wasn’t as lucky. As a result of her annual
screening a lump was found that turned out to be cancer. After meeting with her oncologist and her surgeon at RCH, they developed a treatment plan that included a lumpectomy and radiation. The team determined that she didn’t need chemotherapy. “I had two surgeries,” recalled Linda. “Then I had 37 radiation treatments.” Talk about convenient! She was back at work two days after the surgeries and could walk down the hallway and have the OR nurses help her with her dressings. “You have to be completely healed before you can begin radiation,” she explained. The radiation caused a bit of dehydration and she drank “tons and tons of water”, but that was the extent of the side effects. By August, a mere four months after her breast cancer discovery, she was declared cancer free.
She is now on medication designed to keep breast cancer from returning and maintains her annual appointments for mammograms and complete physicals, just to be sure. After retiring from Ringgold County Hospital this past March, Linda has been enjoying more time with her two daughters and their families. In late September, she was headed to San Antonio for a grandson’s fifth birthday. “I’m so fortunate to be cancer free and able to enjoy retirement with my grandchildren,” she said. “The exceptional care I received from the staff at Ringgold County Hospital made the whole experience a little more bearable. I really encourage all women to include a mammogram in their annual health care planning.”