We've all heard the well-known marriage vows "in sickness and in health."
Just two days shy of Valentine's Day, one local couple proves love really can help heal, even with a surprising diagnosis of breast cancer.
"Carol and I have always been close."
Look for Carolyn Woods and you'll likely find her husband Jerry at her side. The two have been through a lot, including her breast cancer diagnosis back in October of 2011.
"We just kind of went into a little shock you know," Jerry Woods recalled. "Because two years prior to that I had prostate cancer. So boy, it seemed like a double lick right there, you know?"
"Nobody in my family ever had cancer before," Carolyn said. "And it was all so scary, because you don't know what the outcome's going to be."
But, Woods knows how strong his bride is. They've been together nearly all their lives.
"She was 17 and I was 20. And they said, well that's about 6 months. Well, it's been 54 years," Jerry said.
He had to leave her twice before he says, once with two little boys, and once with three. She never left his side during his cancer fight. He recently returned that favor.
"He was there with me every minute of the day," Carolyn recalled. "In fact, I got tired of him because he wouldn't leave me alone.He said 'I can't leave you by yourself!'"
"She's just got a lot of faith and she's just strong," he said. "She's strong the way she looks, I'll be honest. She's always been a pretty girl and a beautiful lady, but she's got a good spirit about her."
"I'm just very grateful that I'm here today. I feel very healthy and strong," Carolyn said.
Jerry calls Carolyn's chemo treatments the scariest part. He credits her doctors, nurses, and the great support system offered at Saint Francis Medical Center in helping her through it.
But it was still a struggle. Jerry recalls his wife getting up one morning feeling well enough to fix breakfast. Moments later, he heard her crying for help.
"She said that she just didn't feel good. And I said well come on, let me get you over here on the bed. Well, she didn't make it. She dropped and her eyes went fixed and she quit breathing. I hit her twice in the chest like this (he demonstrates), trying to get something moving, you know?"
The medical ups and downs kept coming. Carolyn lost her mother as she finished her radiation. But with strength, faith, and love this couple beat cancer again.
"She depends on me and I depend on her. And together there's a bond there that can never be broken."
The Woods' story is a touching one. But Carolyn wants you to learn from it as well.
"Be sure you get your mammograms, because I was 71 when I was diagnosed with it. And like I said, it didn't come in my family. And it really was good that I took my mammograms every year."
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