It has been said that there are friends and there is family—and then there are friends that become family.

That is a truth that has carried Kecia Dent through her “emotional roller coaster” breast cancer journey that began May 3.

Dent is the administrative assistant to Daleville Mayor Jayme Stayton. A former director of the Daleville Area Chamber of Commerce, she remains active in the chamber. She is also the mother of two teenagers who are both active in extracurricular activities at Daleville High School.

Dent first noticed a lump in her breast May 3. “The next morning I called and made an appointment to see my doctor,” she said. Her doctor arranged for a mammogram and ultrasound.

The lump appeared to be a cyst, Dent was told, but the doctor was concerned that it seemed to be growing and changing shape. A biopsy was ordered and two weeks later her sister, Jenna Adaway, drove her to the appointment. “The surgeon said that it appeared to be a cyst and that there was no reason to panic,” Dent said.

“I found out I had breast cancer while I was sitting at my desk at work nine days after the lumpectomy,” Dent said. “The surgeon called and said I needed to get back in as soon as possible for a breast MRI.”

The MRI revealed cancer in her right breast. “I was told that I needed to make a choice,” Dent said. “Because of the times I had been told it wasn’t cancer before, I opted to have my left breast removed as well.

Dent’s friend, Jeffrey Holtcamp, was with her the day she had to make the decision about whether to have a double mastectomy. “He rarely missed an appointment and I will never be able to thank him enough,” Dent said. “He helped me to find more strength than I ever knew I had.”

Dent had a double mastectomy July 8. “It has been an emotional rollercoaster ride. After being told three times it was ‘just a cyst,’ to hear the words breast cancer was quite a shock,” Dent recalled. “Explaining it to my kids after telling them time and again I was ok wasn’t easy.”

“I have gone from feeling like Frankenstein’s monster to a fighter,” Dent said, reflecting on the past six months. “I have been so blessed to have so many that care about me and the wellbeing of my family.”

Her boss and friends from work check on her regularly, Dent said, citing Stayton, Terry Hitchcock, Caroline Ray and Kathryn “Kat” Eubanks. “Just to name a few,” she said. “I have had more friends check on me than I can recall.”

Friends Will and Christy High did a “Butts 4 Boobs” fundraiser for Dent which helped her with bills for the first month and a half out of work.

The Village Inn in Newton hosted a Poker Run Oct. 3 to help Dent with household and medical bills.

“My parents and kids have been a perfect support system for me,” Dent said. “They have taken care of house work and grocery shopping.”

The daughter of Jon and Kathy Dent of Newton, granddaughter of Jim and Faye Watson of Headland and mother of Mason, 17, and Emma, 13, is known in her family as a fighter. “I’m sitting here thinking back a little over 43 years ago right here at this hospital praying that my sweet baby girl would live,” Kathy Dent reflected in a social media post following her daughter’s surgery. “She had numerous complications at birth and they didn’t think she would make it through the night but they didn’t know what a fighter she is.

“She came into this world fighting and has been a fighter ever since,” Kathy Dent said. “I’m so very proud of the woman she has become and I know she is still a fighter today. I know her and God got this.”

“I have just started the reconstruction portion of this nightmare,” Dent said, crediting her doctor and his staff. “They are so wonderful and always happy to answer questions helping to put my worries to rest.” Dent has had three surgeries on this breast cancer journey and has one to go. “It is definitely painful but worth every ounce of pain to still be here with my family and friends,” she said.

Dent expresses heartfelt appreciation for Earl Smith. “I thank him for seeing me for who I really am and not just what I look like,” Dent said. “He helped pick up the pieces of me and show me there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I couldn’t ask for better people in my life.

“I am who God intended me to be and I will not be broken,” Dent said, adding the advice: “Check your boobs, mine tried to kill me.”

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