Breast cancer survivor & new equipment at a Montgomery hospital

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - October is "National Breast Cancer Awareness" month. This year marks 25 years of education and empowerment. It's a time when many of you are hearing survivor stories, some for sharing for the first time.

Autauga Academy teacher Cheryl Durbin is doing what she loves: teaching.

A Pre-K teacher for eleven years, Durbin is also a four year cancer survivor, after being diagnosed just weeks before the start of the school year in 2007.

"I went from nothing in a course of two months to this cancer," Durbin said.

Durbin says her students pushed her to survive.

"Being with them help me take my mind off of a lot of the things I was going through," Durbin said.

Durbin says thankfully, she didn't experience the side effects of chemotherapy.

"I was very blessed that I wasn't sick. I would go to chemo and see people who were suffering terribly," Durbin said.

Only missing a few weeks of school.

"I lost all the skin off my hands and my feet. But I kept on teaching," Durbin said.

Survivors are faced with the fact cancer can return, but Durbin says she's not afraid.

"For me to have made it this far without a recurrence is awesome. It is awesome, I know it can come back. I know there's this possibility," Durbin said.

Durbin gets her mammograms at Jackson hospital's imaging center in Montgomery. Now, this general electric digital mammography machine is on it's way to the imaging center, making screenings less painful.

"[It] reduces not only the radiation, but the number of views that the women may have to have and therefore less times of compression," Jackson Imaging Center Doctor Brad Thomas said.

It's expected to arrive at the end of the month. Dr. Thomas says this machine will have a larger plate to accommodate women with larger breasts. Durbin says a more comfortable process is needed.

"I think more women would be willing to go have regular mammograms done," Durbin said.

With more awareness and earlier detection so more women like Cheryl Durbin will have a survivor story to tell.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are now about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in this country.

Also, it's estimated about 192,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women this year. Over 40,000 are expected to die from the disease.