Darlene Brady has worked at Wayne Memorial Hospital, now UNC Health Care, for almost 26 years.
But in December 2014, she became a patient.
"About the middle of December, I found a lump," she said, admitting there was a family history of the cancer. "The week before Christmas, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer."
The recommended treatment included surgery, six months of chemo and 33 treatments of radiation. But it was not without some unexpected obstacles -- cancer cells that weren't detected earlier, a late reaction to radiation that resulted in 40 hyperbaric treatments.
The clinical systems analyst says she tried to take it in stride, drawing upon others for support.
"It did good for me to talk about it and gave me an opportunity to talk about it with people going through it," she said. "I want people to know that you can do this.
"I want them to not be afraid of having a cancer diagnosis because it's not the end of the world like people have in their heads. This disease is so treatable and so curable."
Her own experience prompted the premise of this year's cancer event at Wayne UNC Health Care, which coincides with breast cancer awareness month. Brady, the featured speaker at the Oct. 26 event, suggested the theme -- Erase the Fear.
"We have to do something to erase the fear of this disease," she said. "We have to get past that. That's what I stress to so many people.
"I'm not going to tell you this journey is easy, because it's not. But it's doable. You can do it and you can have a life when it's over."
"Erase the Fear" will be held that Thursday evening from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. on the front lawn of the hospital.
The evening will feature food, a fashion show with local survivors modeling clothes from area boutiques and retailers and lots of information and resources available in this community.
Dr. Samer Kasbari and Dr. James Atkins, hematologists and oncologists with Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, as well as representatives from Eskra Plastic Surgery, Wayne Radiology, UNC Surgical Specialists at Goldsboro and UNC Primary Care at Goldsboro will also be on hand to talk about prevention, treatment options and respond to questions. There will also be the availability to schedule a mammogram.
This is the fifth year for the event catering to cancer survivors and those still in treatment, said Brittani Schultze-Gardner, public relations specialist with the hospital.
The hope is to erase the fear and some of the stigmas associated with the dreaded diagnosis, she said.
Those include, but are not limited to, hesitation to get a mammogram, fear of "finding something" or avoiding such news, she said. That is why such a public gathering can be beneficial.
"When you come together as a community and you have physicians and you have nurses, you have administrative staff and family and friends, I think it does make facing those times easier," she said. "There's a lot in Wayne County that we have to offer, and we can do it together."
One of the things that that will be shared that evening is a video created for the occasion, she said, adding that she is grateful for all the support the event receives each year.
"It's open to anyone," she pointed out. "It's somewhat of a survivor function but I don't want to limit it to that. We want to educate the community that if you or a family member were to get a diagnosis here's what we would have to offer."
She encouraged anyone interested in attending to RSVP by Oct. 20 so organizers will be prepared for the turnout. Register online at www.waynehealth.org/erasethefear or by calling 919-587-3300.