LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Looking back on her life, Paula Hughes has always offered hope.
"Ever since I was a kid at a very young age, I've always wanted to help and offer my assistance," Hughes said. "That's why I work in the medical field."
Nineteen years ago, Hughes was looking to others for hope.
"I had breast tenderness and went to the doctor, and he put me on vitamin E, and I took that for several months and the tenderness went away, and I quit taking the vitamin," Hughes said. "A few weeks later, the tenderness came back, and I started taking the vitamin E again and contacted my physician, and he ordered a mammogram. He saw the results, and said I was okay and to come back in seven years."
Hughes was not confident in the response she got and said her body kept telling her something was wrong.
"Something was really wrong, and I kept being persistent and kept on trying to figure out what was going on," Hughes said.
That was when Dr. Bill Kistler was able to spot the cancer.
"It was pretty scary," Hughes said. "I kept thinking my results had got mixed up with someone else's, and I didn't believe it was true. It was probably six months after I had three surgeries and chemo, it finally sunk in."
In the years that followed, Hughes would get involved in the American cancer society and offer hope and friendship to people of all ages.
It is a mission she is still on today. Hughes said before sitting down for the survivor special she had only told her story once but she always made a point to make sure others going through cancer knew that she was there for them. In recent years Hughes has been involved in the Cattle Barron's Gala and Relay for Life.
"To know that she is here an active and still willing and able to do everything she does for ACS is great," Cattle Barron's Chair Jennifer Webster said. ""To know someone that you can just reach out and know they've been there and know what we are doing makes a difference. It's incredible."
Hughes knows she is a miracle and believes everyone should listen to their heart when they feel something is wrong.
"Just be persistent," Hughes said. "Know your body and get your mammograms. Get your screenings."
For the seventh straight year, the American Cancer Society is hosting the Cattle Barron's Gala in Lufkin. This year, the event will be at the Southern Stables. The event will be headlined by John Michael Montgomery.