FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Bright Start selected eight Pink Power Moms nationwide, and one of those moms resides on Fort Lewis.

Jodi Petit, spouse of Lt. Col. Brian Petit, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, and a five-year breast cancer survivor, was selected as one of eight winning Pink Power Moms.

To qualify as a Pink Power Mom, all nominees had to be cancer survivors and mothers.

Petit is the proud mother of three sons - Shep, 10, Grady, 9, and Fin, 6.

As a winner of the Pink Power Mom competition, Petit got $1,000 to donate to the cancer organization of her choice.

"I decided to give it to a military organization (the Windber, Walter Reed Army Medical Center Clinical Breast Care Project) because the military community was just awesome," Petit said. "I was at the cutting edge of care, and the whole military community was so good to our family during that time. "

Petit's fight with cancer began when her family was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.

"I knew I had breast cancer in the family, so I was vigilant about doing my self-exams," she said. "My biological mother had both breast cancer and ovarian cancer when she died at the age of 52, and her mother died of ovarian cancer."

It was during one of her routine self-exams at age 35 that Petit discovered some suspicious lumps.

"My husband was in Iraq when I was diagnosed, but the Red Cross got him home in less than 36 hours to help take care of me," she said. "He was able to stay home long enough to help make the decisions."

Petit initially had a lumpectomy, followed by a second surgery to remove lymph nodes. When cancer was found there, she underwent a third surgery - a double mastectomy - followed by chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation treatments.

"My husband loved me so beautifully during that time," Petit said. "He loved my baldness and he loved me because of my baldness. My husband should be the Pink Power Dude because he set the example of how a husband should support his wife."

Her husband's support made their marriage stronger, Petit said. Throughout the ordeal, the couple was candid with their children and made them part of the process.

"Grady, at age 3, would snuggle with me for hours, and Shep, at age 5, went with me to get my head shaved," she said. "He just rubbed my arm and said, 'It's just hair, Mom!'"

The most difficult thing through her ordeal, Petit said, was realizing that she might not see her babies grow up.

Luckily, many family members came to help support Petit. Her sister, mother-in-law and brother-in-law took turns visiting and helping out.

"I had a really aggressive treatment," she said. "You have got to be your own best advocate and use every tool you can to survive."

That could include Eastern medicine, Western medicine, chemotherapy and radiation, diet (fewer refined sugars), maintaining a positive outlook, and spirituality, Petit said.

"Jodi (Petit) is such a good role model for other women who are going through a similar situation," said Susan Glaser, her neighbor. "She genuinely cares about helping other women who are going through the same thing."

Petit thinks she won the Pink Power Mom competition because she stays positive.

"There will be a lot of ladies who know me who will get breast cancer, too, so what I do matters," she said. "Since I survived, other women will know they can survive as well."

Barbara L. Sellers is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.