Mary Jean Barker knows the importance of self breast exams.

Mary Jean Barker knows the importance of self breast exams.
"I really wasn't diagnosed, I had my check up in March (20 years ago), I found a lump myself a couple of months later," said Barker. "It was on my right breast."
Barker is a 20-year survivor of breast cancer. She said that her mother and sister had cancer, not breast cancer.
For 20 years, Barker has kept up with research about breast cancer.
"They (researchers) went through a period of a few years ago where they didn't think that mammograms were helpful, then they came back and decided it was," she said, who had her yearly mammograms.

Barker said having mammograms, self breast exams and early detection is vital.
"The medical thing now is that if you have a history of breast cancer, they should listen to their doctor and he or she will advise them on what to do, but normally if there is a history in your family you should probably have it (mammogram) maybe five or 10 years earlier," she said.

Support groups
Through her cancer, Barker had a lot of support.
"First was God, then my family and the church and support group (Bosom Buddies)," she said. "I had a wonderful support group, my family, my husband and my kids, then also my church family was really good. the church group was really special to us."

Bosom Buddies
For a number of years, the Bosom Buddies based here in Neosho, has helped breast cancer patients.
"I didn't get into Bosom Buddies for a few years, because I didn't feel like I needed it," Barker said. "And at one point, Andy (my late husband) had cancer too, close to the same time. I tried to get him to maybe start a support group for men or something like that, and there is nothing. So in trying to encourage him, I just started going to (Bosom Buddies), then I found out how we encourage each other. With other ladies that are going through the same thing I was and then also to help other ladies, it is an important thing."
When asked how she feels now, Barker said, "I feel great."