Ruth Stone will never forget the day she married Jerry Stone, general manager of the Salt Lake Hilton, and the days their children and grandchildren were born.
She'll always remember the day the couple left Florida three years ago to relocate in Salt Lake City. And she'll never forget the day she learned she had breast cancer."When he (her physician) told me I had cancer, I was a wreck. It still bothers me to think about it," said Stone, her eyes brimming with tears. "Cancer scares you. The fear of it is always with you. Every time I get a little ache in that side, it's the first thing that comes to my mind."
Stone has all the advantages of being white, upper class, articulate, pretty, well-educated and well-connected to a thicket of medical specialists.
But cancer has a way of making even a woman like Stone realize the fragility of her mortality. It's a test of the human spirit - a long, hard battle that the 46-year-old fought and hopefully won.
Since undergoing a modified mastectomy last October, Stone has been operated on nine times - several times for painful reconstructive surgery.
"My mother and husband thought it (reconstructive surgery) was very important - more so than I did. I was just happy to get rid of the cancer," she reflected. "They talked me into doing it for me."
While many mastectomy patients have difficulty coping with their appearance and sexuality, it was the life-threatening disease that concerned her more.
Since her cancer was detected through a routine examination, Stone has become a strong advocate of mammograms. She's made appointments for her friends and encouraged her daughters to do self-examinations and have mammograms.
"You don't know how important it is," she said. "No one is infallible; cancer can happen to some people so young. I was one of the lucky ones. They caught it in time."