‘Paying it forward’

“Paying it forward.”

It’s a term we’ve often heard used in the movies, but when one Washougal resident uses this term to describe some of her recent activities, she truly means it.

Mary LaFrance has overcome some serious medical issues in her life. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2005, she underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. And when doctors later discovered that some potentially cancerous cells were once again growing in her breast tissue, she made the incredibly brave decision to have a complete double mastectomy.

Making this choice would be difficult for any woman, but hearing LaFrance talk, it is clear that she tackled the situation with what must be her trademark resilience and even a little bit of humor.

So it may not be too surprising to those who know her that since being in remission for two years, breast cancer and her experiences with it are not things LaFrance has chosen to bury in the back of her mind and forget about. Actually, quite the opposite.

She has recorded a CD, which includes several songs she wrote, inspired by her cancer battle. She is currently working on a book, which will be titled “Living with breast cancer, surviving with God.” And on Saturday, LaFrance is putting on a breast cancer awareness conference at Bethel Community Church.

LaFrance said she was inspired to organize the event after watching several of her family members and friends also go through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

This disease can impact anyone, she said, and it is her hope that by creating a greater awareness in the Camas-Washougal communities, if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, they will have the tools and knowledge to tackle it with as much support as she had. As LaFrance would describe it, she wants to “pay it forward.”