A Lufkin woman plays an integral role in shaping the lives of other women who have experienced challenges. But in 2011 she was diagnosed with a rare stomach cancer which changed not only her life, but her family and friends as well.
"Stomach cancer just didn't happen to me, it happened to my whole family, it happened to my friends, everybody was traumatized," Donna Busler said.
It's not the first time Busler came face with face with the long struggle of cancer.
"My mother died of cancer at 42 and my father died at 57. My maternal grandfather had died of cancer also," Busler said.
Busler said she had witnessed her loved ones suffering so she knew didn't want the same for her husband and children.
Making decisions which involved little to no chemotherapy or radiation, Busler and her family were faced with many conversations.
As the day for the surgery arrived, the planned was a section of stomach will be removed, but doctors soon discovered one lymph node inside the stomach which meant the cancer had spread.
"As a result of those previous conversations, he (her husband) made the decision to go ahead and have the entire stomach removed which was called the host," Busler said.
What followed next was adjusting to a new lifestyle without a vital organ, but her body transformed an created a pseudo stomach -- a pouch formed at the bottom of the esophagus.
Replacing processed foods for fresh fruits and vegetables, Busler said every bite of food she consumes now has to be very nutritious.
"It certainly means very little sugar can be taken in, no white flour. Anything that has preservatives and additives I know to stay away from those things," Busler said.
But the greater challenge was the celebrations, especially around the holidays.
"I did not go to Thanksgiving that year because I just couldn't bear the thought of going and not being able to eat all those wonderful pies and cakes and dressing and all that kind of thing," Busler said.
Although she faced adversity in her life, Busler said her relationship with her faith, centered on hope, has become stronger over the years.
"I honestly will tell you, one of the best things that happened in my life was having cancer, because I have learned I have the sweetest relationship with Jesus Christ," Busler said. "I love people in a way that I never experienced before because of knowing this pain, despondency and discouragement, I can relate better to people now."
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As a result of living life without a stomach, Busler said her friends and her family have experimented new dishes, some not so tasty as the real biscuits and gravy---but she appreciates it as a form of love.