Breast cancer survivor encourages women to make time for annual mammogram

Nov 21, 2022

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(Nacogdoches, TX) – An East Texas mom, grandmother, wife, and retired schoolteacher, wants to encourage other women to get screened for breast cancer this National Mammography Day Oct. 21, throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and every day. She said a mammogram can save lives.

mammo-2Zonia Corbell, age 62, had a fulfilling and busy family life and professional life as schoolteacher. She admits she got busy and did not keep up with her regular mammograms. Just as she was getting ready to retire after 26 years of teaching third graders in her hometown of Center, Texas, Corbell felt a suspicious lump in her left breast. Although she had no pain or symptoms, Corbell soon learned that the lump was cancerous. “I was going about my business and at that moment my whole life changed,” she said. Corbell said prayers and faith led her to Nacogdoches Medical Center, just one hour drive from her hometown, where she met a team of doctors and nurses who she said saved her life. 

Mary Hebert, M.D., a radiation oncologist and medical director with Nacogdoches Medical Center, who was part of Corbell’s care team, said 1 in 8 women in the United States will have a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in life. 


“It is very important to make time for a mammogram because studies show that a mammography screening can cut the risk of dying from breast cancer in half,” Hebert said. “Three out of four women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease,” she added.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons and the American College of Radiology recommend women who have no personal or family history or genetic predisposition for breast cancer begin annual mammogram screening at age 40. For women who have a higher than average risk for breast cancer, such as the presence of certain genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2) in their DNA or other factors, should consult with their physician regarding the frequency for screenings that may begin for them as early as age 25 or 30.

At Nacogdoches Medical Center’s Laird Imaging Center, patients have access to resources including 3D digital screening and diagnostic mammography, breast 

 ultrasound, stereotactic breast biopsies, ultrasound-guided breast biopsies and genetic testing for breast cancer. “We are fortunate to be able to provide this treatment to our community,” Dr. Herbert said.

After a complete mastectomy (breast removal) of her left breast at Nacogdoches Medical Center, and a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Corbell said she is cancer free. 

“I am so grateful I found the doctors and nurses at Nacogdoches Medical Center who not only treated my cancer, they also treated my soul with their compassion and care,” Corbell said. “This has been a journey I never expected but I am now happily retired and enjoying life with my husband, Shane, of 41 years and my entire family. I cannot stress enough the lessons I’ve learned about how important it is for women to take care of themselves and to get their annual mammogram screenings. It is lifesaving,” she said.

Photos: (Top photo) Zonia Corbell (pictured third from right) and her husband, Shane, (second from right) celebrate her successful treatment with her radiation oncology team. (Photo bottom: Zonia Corbell receives infusion therapy as part of her cancer treatment program at Nacogdoches Medical Center.) 

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