Buddy Check 25: Tornado survivor and cancer survivor

By WEEK Producer

December 25, 2013 Updated Dec 25, 2013 at 10:59 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- A Washington woman is giving thanks this Christmas after a tornado blew apart her home. She says that tragedy is minor in comparison to fighting breast cancer.

Since today is the 25th of the month, Susie Brown wants to remind you to do your breast self-exam and to tell your loved ones to do the same. Susie shares her story in her own words.

"I'm Susie Brown. I've been married to my husband almost 30 years. We were high school sweethearts. This was my kitchen and this was my den with fireplace and I had just decorated for Christmas the day before the tornado came and I was so excited about the Christmas season."

"I've been a breast cancer survivor for a little over two years now and through that journey I think my perspective about life changed and it just makes me realize that our home is temporary. I just felt like we're all ok and that's what matters and I'm so grateful to be alive to walk this journey with my husband and to be here with my family and watch my grandchildren grow up and I can thank Susan G. Komen for that because I've been affected directly by like three different research projects and um I'm just so grateful that I can be here each day, whether it's a good day or a bad day. My worst fear now is that I would have to see my own daughters go through what I went through and when I was suffering the worst part of my own suffering was watching my family suffer with me. Our whole top floor blew off, even the carpet. I believe our God is a God of restoration and taking the old, the broken and making it new," said Brown.

Her broken body feels brand new and Susie says some day her home will, too.

Looking back on her breast cancer fight, Susie says she wishes she would have been more vigilant about breast self-exam and breast health awareness, perhaps noticing the subtle changes in her breast sooner.