Six months before her scheduled mammogram in 2001, Nancy K. Gratz felt God was with her.
At that time, she had mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection. Then she discovered a lump.
“I was very busy and I did think about canceling the mammogram, but now I know I needed it more than anything,” she said. “My message from God was, ‘You need to go there.’ I had not had a lump before, which was my signal.”
She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, having a complete mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Since the cancer had not entered her lymph nodes, she did not have to go through chemotherapy, only surgery.
“It is one of those things where I encourage people to have those mammograms,” she said. Nancy considers herself lucky she had stage 1 cancer. Her daughter-in-law was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor the same year, losing her battle in 2006.
“I asked God to please get me better so I can help take care of their two children,” Nancy said through tears remembering the loss of this lovely young woman she loved so much.
As she provided to her daughter-in-law, Nancy’s now tremendous support system in her husband, Bill, now of 48 years, their three children, their spouses, seven grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, as well as her friends and her faith, is what helped her through her own battle.
Her diagnosis did not let this community involved, strong and faith-filled woman stop living her life. The Wardsville native and now resident, who spent 43 years in the banking industry, continued her now 30-year career in real estate (her license was inactive during her banking career) through her and Bill’s business, Gratz Real Estate and Auctioneering, in which Bill has had for 47 years. She was a recipient of the Zonta Woman of Achievement Award in 2002, served on the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Board, acting as chairman in 2001, and currently serves as treasurer and is chairman of the finance committee for the Jefferson City Board of Realtors and is on the governing board for Women’s Council of Realtors of Jefferson City. She also has served on boards of the Jefferson City Rotary Club, United Way of Central Missouri, Home Builders Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce Leadership Alumni Board, American Cancer Society, Rape and Abuse Crisis Service and Boys and Girls Club through the years.
Then in 2011, Nancy was given a cancer diagnosed once again, this time with Paget’s disease of the breast. With this second battle, she had surgery and received therapy treatment, including seven weeks of radiation. Thankfully, she has been in remission ever since.
“I am proud to be a two-time cancer survivor. It is 17 years from my first diagnosis and seven years from the second time. It was early detection in both cases,” she said. “The support I received from my faith, my family and my friends got me through this time. I promised God if I was a survivor, I would help other survivors.”
Nancy has stuck by her promise. That is why she continues to serve as the treasurer of the Community Breast Care Project, being with the organization nearly since its inception and a cause that is so important to her.
“People at this time so often need the financial support and comfort of other people that are survivors who can help them through their journey and be a cancer survivor like the rest of us,” she said about the Community Breast Care Project.
With the annual Strut Your Style Fashion Show & Luncheon raising so much for that important local organization that aids those battling breast cancer in Mid-Missouri, Nancy has been honored to be a model in her fourth show this December.
She was familiar with modeling, showcasing beautiful clothing for the Council of Clubs annual show and Calena’s Fashions events in the past. Even though she admits she still gets a little nervous on the runway, she loves the support from the show’s guests when she cascades down the stage in a gorgeous blue gown from Saffee’s like she did at the 2017 Strut Your Style.
“I loved that blue dress. … I have been told with my eyes that was perfect for me,” she said with a smile, noting she bought it and wore it to the annual Jefferson City Board of Realtors dinner. “I have absolutely made so many friends at this event. It is good to meet other people and be able to help them through their journey of hope.”
Nancy is thankful for the support she had through her battles with cancer and is so appreciative of how the community continues to support the Community Breast Care Project through the annual Strut Your Style Fashion Show & Luncheon.
“I am so proud to be in it. It is a breast cancer thriver show and that is very near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I appreciate all that Sherrie Brant and her team has done to help the Community Breast Care Project. It takes things like that to help get the financial support to do what we do.”
Click here to read Lori Hoelscher’s story.
Click here to read Liz Morrow’s story.
Click here to read Pam Schnieders’ story.
Click here to read a special tribute to the late Strut Your Style model and breast cancer survivor Dana Kliethermes.
Find out more about the Strut Your Style Fashion Show & Luncheon here.