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Representative Czaja battles cancer again

IRMA, Wis. (WXPR) -- A Northwoods legislator is facing cancer again, and wants to get the message out to everyone to get screened and take care of themselves.

50-year-old Mary Czaja of Irma is a first term Republican legislator with a district covering portions of Oneida, Lincoln, Langlade, Marathon and Shawano counties.

Czaja says she was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago and opted for a double mastectomy, believing she wouldn't have to deal with it again. During a January flight to an insurance training session in Nevada, she experienced severe pain in her right shoulder sitting in the pressurized cabin.  "Just God Awful pain in my shoulder and right side. I'm thinking, 'What on God's green earth did I do, a pinched nerve or something?'"

She had it checked out. After eliminating a number of possible explanations, Czaja got the dreaded word that she has a rare form of cancer in two mammary gland lymph nodes, even though she thought all the breast tissue had been removed during her earlier cancer bout.

She's beginning chemotherapy treatment in Madison and later this summer radiation at Wausau. But her message to women, and also to men, don't wait to get checked out.  "Do not put off your exams. Get it done when you're told to get it done. Not just women, men too. Listen to your body. When they say you should stop smoking, or you should get that ten pounds off, or cut back on whatever, you have to stop doing that and take care of yourselves."

Czaja says she will run again for the 35th Assembly seat even with her on­going treatments.