- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TIPTON, Pa. (AP) - A Blair County woman with a lifelong abiding faith in the power of God is today cancer free following a battle with breast cancer that at first left her feeling her life was over.

Sara Kissell, 76, of Tipton, credits the healing power of God, support from her family and friends and the excellent care she received at the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center in Windber as reasons why she is gearing up for many more years of top-quality life.

“When I first learned I had breast cancer, I was devastated,” Kissell said from her home in the small community between Bellwood and Tyrone. “I started to cry.”

The mother of three daughters, one son and grandmother to seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, agreed to go through the recommended procedures, but held out little hope.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I thought this was going to be the end, even though I knew God could take me through this.”

Kissell’s breast cancer battle started in early March 2013 when a routine mammogram detected tumors in her milk ducts so small they couldn’t be seen.

She first sought treatment at what is now UPMC Altoona, then switched to Windber, 60 miles from her home. By late March she had her first appointment with surgeon Dr. Dianna Craig.

Kissell underwent a plug biopsy at Windber and a procedure involving wires inserted into the breast to remove the tumors.

The cancer was not found in her lymph nodes and chemotherapy was not part of the recommended post-surgery treatment, but Kissell underwent 30 radiation treatments in Altoona.

“There were no problems with them whatsoever,” she said. “I went through the treatments like a whiz.”

Kissell had worked first in retail then for many years, then as an operator for what was then Bell Telephone. In 1983, she retired to become a full-time homemaker.

Her husband, Don, 77, retired just last year as a tanker truck driver for Martin Oil Co.

The story of Sara and her battle with cancer started at a time when Don learned he also had developed cancer. Within a day of Sara’s diagnosis, Don learned he had bladder cancer.

“For us to both get cancer so close together, it’s something,” she said.

He has had tumors removed and had a cancer-free report.

That changed on Oct. 16, however, when a routine doctor’s visit showed a small lump appeared, something that will have to be removed, she said.

As with herself, Kissell said she and her family are looking to a higher power for her husband.

But getting routine medical care is vital, she said.

“My advice is to do whatever your doctor tells you, take care of yourself and stay away from stress,” she said. “But I thoroughly believe God is the healer.”

The Kissells attend Faith Alliance Church located two miles from their home. It is a part of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination and a church, she said, where their church family pour out their love and prayer.

And regarding her own health care, Kissell is quick to express high praise for the Somerset County facility she went to.

“As far as Windber, that’s a wonderful place over there. It’s a wonderful place.”

The Kissell’s children are: Melody of Bellwood; Penny Jo of Blandburg; Michelle of Delaware; and Mike of Bellwood. They lost their first child Donny, shortly after birth.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/1vMyhTU

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Information from: The Tribune-Democrat, https://www.tribune-democrat.com

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