Mary James with grandson Ryley Jenkins and niece Summer Embry
Mary James with grandson Ryley Jenkins and niece Summer Embry
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and survivors such as Mary James want to raise awareness.

An EMT at Neshoba County General Hospital, Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011.

After surgery and chemotherapy she is happy to report: "Everything is looking good so far, I'm cancer free!"

Mary detected a lump in her breast, which was confirmed by a mammogram she had at Neshoba General. Surgery quickly followed.

Mary said it is very important for women, even those at a younger age, to practice self-examination.

"I tell them to start checking their breasts every month so that if something different comes up they will notice," Mary said.

She was blessed to have her co-workers at Neshoba General as her support group, while she was undergoing her surgery and subsequent treatments.

Co-workers filled in for her on her ambulance shift when she was out and, what's more, an anonymous hospital employee gave her some of his or her vacation time.

For nearly 15 years, Mary has worked as an EMT at Neshoba General where she enjoys helping people.

"I have a lot of confidence in our hospital and am excited about our new hospital very much," she said. "It is a big asset to our county."

A Kemper County native, Mary met her husband Joye on a blind date where they went to a singing at Neshoba Baptist Church.

They have been married for almost 10 years.

They have two daughters, Windie Jenkins and Brittany Merrill, seven grandchildren and a niece, Summer Embry, who lives with them.

They are members of First Baptist Church of Union.

Joye is a welder at B. R. Smith Enterprise.

In her free time, Mary likes to do ceramics, pottery and cross-stitching. She also likes putting together puzzles.

The James are avid campers with Turkey Creek, Neshoba Lake and Okatibbee Reservoir among their favorite places.

While Joye mans the grill when they are camping, Mary takes charge of meals at home.

"I actually enjoy cooking," she said, describing herself as a country cook. "I'm not an extravagant cook but if I find a recipe that is odd, I might try it."

When it comes to desserts, Summer takes over that job.

"She does all the sweets," Mary said.

Below are some of the family's favorite recipes.

Fried Okra Salad

1 1/2 pound breaded frozen okra

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 bell pepper sliced

6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

Fry okra in vegetable oil according to directions, drain. In a medium bowl combine okra, tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions and bacon. In a small saucepan combine oil, sugar and vinegar. Cook over medium eat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Pour over okra mixture, tossing to cool. Serve immediately.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup karo

2 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups pecans

1 deep dish frozen pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix ingredients. Pour into pie crust and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool then serve.

Mexican Corn Bread

1 1/2 cup corn meal

3 eggs

1/3 cup oil

1 cup cheese, grated

1 cup milk

1 cup whole kernel corn

3 jalapenos, chopped

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Then serve.

Chocolate Pudding

3 eggs

1 1/2 tablespoon flour

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoon coca

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large saucepan, combine flour, sugar and coca, mixing very well. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well then bring to a boil. Reduce heat immediately. Cook on low stirring continuously until thickened. Let cool then serve.

Dirty Rice

1 stick of butter

1 cup rice

1 can onion soup

1 can beef consomme

1 can mushrooms

Melt butter in medium bowl. In another bowl, mix ingredients. Then pour into buttered bowl. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.