Jonrowe understands her Idita-Rider's plight

Beth Bragg

Bev Nelms was back on Fourth Avenue on Saturday, hitching a ride in DeeDee Jonrowe's sled for the 15th time as an Idita-Rider and the first time as something of a soul sister.

Nelms, a 76-year-old Texan, was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago, news that hit Jonrowe in the gut.

Jonrowe, 58, is in her 10th Iditarod since her 2002 breast cancer diagnosis. Shortly before the 2010 Iditarod, Peg Stout, Jonrowe's mother, was diagnosed with the disease. And now it has struck her longtime Idita-rider.

Nelms called Jonrowe soon after getting her diagnosis.

"I couldn't think of better friends to share (the news) with," Nelms said as she stood with Stout and Jonrowe next to Jonrowe's dog truck.

Jonrowe, ever the advocate, said Nelms is an example of why women should be proactive. "You need to be checked, and you need to check your insurance to make sure you're covered," she said.

"I'm not covered," Nelms said, "and just one procedure cost $2,000."

Nelms said she was two months late scheduling her annual mammogram, which she usually gets in November or December. Her timing turned out to be perfect, she said. Doctors discovered a minuscule spot in Nelms' February mammogram that probably wouldn't have been detected two or three months earlier but would have grown to a far more troublesome stage had she waited for next November or December.

Nelms, who works as a school nurse, will have surgery March 16, followed by radiation.

"There's a lot of hope," she said. "A lot of it is your attitude."

"That's the thing," Stout said, nodding in agreement. "A positive attitude."

Anchorage Daily News