Years after her bout with breast cancer, Sadie Brooks keeps a smile on her face and a spring in her step.
"It's been 17 years that I've been cancer-free," Ms. Brooks said. "So God and the doctor have healed me. Cancer will not ever return to this brown-skinned, peanut butter-anointed healthy 63-year-old."
Walking to her different jobs every day keeps Ms. Brooks healthy, she said. In addition to her 35 years of service cleaning the McDuffie County Courthouse and offices, Ms. Brooks also has contracts to clean several other professional offices in downtown Thomson.
Although she said she's made some mistakes, taking care of herself and trusting God has always been her philosophy in life. When she first discovered the lump in her breast, she didn't panic.
"I'm the type of person who always considered God first. Whatever happened, He would give me the strength to stand it," she said. "Situations like that you can't handle it yourself. You just have to turn it over to God. ... I felt His presence like He was walking by my side."
Ms. Brooks said she continued to work while she was going through chemo and radiation treatments. She was blessed that her hair didn't fall completely out, although she did get a shorter cut since it thinned some. But she refused to sit around and feel sorry for herself.
"I learned to love Chinese chicken wings," she said with a laugh. "I would go and get them on the way to my treatments (at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta). And then I'd stop at Fatman's and get some boiled peanuts on the way home."
Even though it's been years since her cancer, Ms. Brooks continues to go to the doctor every three to four months for a check up.
"I do everything they tell me to do," she said. "If they tell me to stand on my head, I'll just get two chairs to hold onto so I won't fall, and I'll do it."
And she hopes other women will do the same. Ms. Brooks said she doesn't like to hear of other women who "are in denial," and think they can put off their doctor visits or screenings.
"I try to talk to people and tell them no insurance is not a reason to not see a doctor," she said. "The health department will do screens for you to have a mammogram."
As a single mother with five children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Ms. Brooks has had her share of difficult times. She remembers three years ago, when her great-grandson, Zion Robinson, was born premature, weighing only one pound.
Today, Zion and his mother live with Ms. Brooks. She proudly shows off pictures of him, and glows as she tells of the things they do together.
"As I look back at all the things that have happened to me, I know that God's got my back every which way I turn," she said confidently. "Can't anything happen in my life that God and I can't handle. I was living in the project. Now I've got a house. I tell God 'I can't die. I've got this house to pay for.' I talk to Him. And when I shut up, He talks back to me."