Local News

Story published: 06-11-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Alma Hackney is 18-year survivor of breast cancer

By: Marlana Ward

Freelance writer

Ladies in the south are known for their hospitality and strength.  One fine example of these attributes is Alma Hackney of Mountain City who personally faced the battle with cancer but with faith and courage, emerged as an inspiration to all women of Johnson County.  

According to the American Cancer Society website, www.cancer.org, about one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.  Hackney’s journey with cancer began with a routine visit to the doctor in December 1996.  Her doctor, Dr. Griffiths, sent her to see specialist Dr. Dean in Boone, North Carolina, when they realized there was a problem.  A lumpectomy was performed and the diagnosis made.

Hackney’s cancer was battled with a series of 33 radium treatments over a period of just a few weeks.  She would go to Boone for treatment five days a week with only the weekends for rest.  Her husband, Gene, friends, and relatives made it possible for her to attend all her many appointments.

While most patients suffered burns or nausea from radium treatments, Hackney was fortunate to be spared these side effects.  “It didn’t affect me badly,” she shared.  “I was able to still do my housework.  It even amazed the staff.” After her treatments were completed, Alma’s cancer was gone.  She continued to see her cancer doctors twice a year, had her yearly mammograms, and enjoyed many years of great follow up visits.

Alarm and anxiety were aroused in January 2014 when Hackney was sent for another lumpectomy after a lump was found in the same breast that cancer had attacked 18 years before.   The lump was found to not be cancerous and she still enjoys being cancer free today.

One of Hackney’s favorite things is when the Relay for Life holds their annual events.  “I enjoy the dinner with other survivors,” she said.  “It’s good to see how long some have made it.  Some don’t ever get that chance.”  She also enjoys walking along the track to see the luminaries in memory and in honor of those whose lives have been affected by cancer.  “I don’t know what we would do without the teams that work so hard,” Hackney said.

Hackney credits her family with being a major source of encouragement and strength throughout her battle with cancer.  Her husband Gene, daughter Teresa Mullen, son Steven Hackney and their families gave her tremendous support throughout her treatments.  She also thanks Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and Pastor Jim Norman as being inspirational during her journey.

Today, Hackney shares encouragement with others who may be facing a situation similar to hers. “Take one day at a time,” she said.  “Depend on the Lord to guide you.  Pray a lot.  Let your family help you because they can be a great help physically, spiritually, and any other way.”  

Hackney’s bright outlook on life and appreciation for every day she is given serves as an awesome reminder of the strength and resolve that great faith and love can garner.