Beating Breast Cancer In A Boat

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It is never more apparent than during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month how the disease has touched every part of the treasure state, and the nation, and giving everyone a story to tell in October.

A Montana native shared her uniquely Flathead way of dealing with disease.

One bad diagnosis can turn your life upside down, but imagine getting two within years of each other.

"I always thought I was superwoman. I wouldn't be the one and I'm the first one in my immediate family that has had cancer and that was depressing and getting the Parkinson's diagnosis was more depressing," said Susan Sather.

Right now, Sather is cancer-free, and has been for about six years, but it is what she did because of the disease that made all the difference.

She joined a dragon boat racing team.

"You're doing something physical like 'this is not going to get me; I'm going to fight this. I'm a survivor,'" explained Sather.

The regular rowing worked wonders--something Sather considers critical to her recovery. Then, her community of paddlers began noticing what was likely the first symptoms of Parkinson's.

"One of my team members said 'I notice you're having trouble with that left leg getting in and out of the boat,'" Sather recalled.

After an initial misdiagnosis, a neurologist recognized the tell-tale signs of Parkinson's disease. With continued exercise and medication four times per day, Sather has her walk and her talk almost back to normal. In her interview with ABC FOX Montana's Parker Collins, her face never fell expressionless, into what some call "the mask" due to lack of muscle control, and her voice was always clear.

She is a survivor on both counts.

"We've stared cancer in the face and dealt with it. Now we're staring Parkinson's in the face and dealing with it and going on. I have never been this happy in my life," said Sather.

Sather credits a routine mammogram with catching her breast cancer in the earliest stages, allowing her to pursue treatment before the disease could spread.

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