By Martha Underwood

Killeen Daily Herald

To save her sanity during chemotherapy after her hair fell out, Patty Rogers painted a face on the back of her bald head.

Id go to the movies and lift my hat for the teens sitting behind me, she said, grinning.

Rogers, 53, of Florence, considers herself fortunate that her breast cancer was discovered through a routine mammogram before it spread into her lymph system.

I have a genetic disposition for cancer, which means I need to pay attention, Rogers said.

Her grandmother died 50 years ago of cancer, which probably started in her breast, and an aunt also died of it. Rogers other pre-dispositions to breast cancer included never having a baby, being overweight and being over age 50, according to

If I had not had a mammogram when I did, the cancer would have escaped into my lymph system, she said. Women, please get regular mammograms.

Rogers had surgery in August 2002. She underwent chemotherapy for six months, starting in March 2003. Standing in cashier lines with a turban covering her bald head, Rogers saw pity on the faces of strangers and a glad-that-is-not-me look, she said.

So Rogers worked to lighten the situation for others.

She expanded her repertoire of head coverings by adding artificial bangs to the front of her turban, wearing straw hats and a red Santa hat. On Valentines Day 2003, Rogers drew a big heart outline on the back of her head and used a bright red lipstick to fill it in.

It was hard to go bald. I felt like a butterfly that morphed back into a worm, Rogers said.

She needed to laugh and to have others laugh with her. Looking back, she said she wishes she had done more funny things.

Throughout her treatments, Rogers continued to work daily as general manager of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District. Rogers said she was determined not to put her life on hold during the treatments, even though it was really hard sometimes.

For the traditional employee Easter party, her 13 employees brought their small children to Rogers home. Her mother, 83-year-old Granny Mac, had stuffed 1,280 eggs with candy.

Before Rogers first chemo-therapy treatment, her daughters baby was born, and the military transferred them to South Carolina.

How she suffered, not being here to help, Rogers said.

As part of breast cancer awareness month in October, Rogers urges women to get regular mammograms, be-cause early detection saves lives. In 2004, the American Cancer Society estimates in Texas that there will be 12,980 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed, and another 2,410 Texas women will die of the disease.

In addition to annual mammograms, recommends performing monthly breast self-exams. Symptoms to look for include the development of a lump, irregular thickening of breast tissue and nipple discharge or skin changes, such as dimpling or retraction of the nipple. People should see their doctors if they notice any changes, the Web site said.

Contact Martha Underwood at

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