The 4 ‘p’s’ to survival — Rosalyn Folks: Local woman uses her story as an example to others on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle — this year, every year!

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, January 7, 2009

With a little prayer, praise, patience and perseverance, Rosalyn Folks of Picayune, is a true testament to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and staying in tune with your body. Even with her fight against breast cancer, Folks continues teaching her water aerobics group and maintains a positive mental attitude. Just a brief brush with Folks is enough to be inspired to adopt a healthful attitude in 2009, and beyond!

Although Folks hails originally from Forrest, Miss., she has been living and working in Pearl River County since 1966. She came to Picayune right out of college (East Central Junior College in Decatur, Miss., and University of Southern Mississippi) to begin her teaching career.

“Actually teaching was something I wanted to do since I was five years old,” said Folks. First she taught second grade at Roseland Park Elementary and then reading at the junior high level. Upon retirement in 2002, she went to work in the Career and Technology Center in Picayune as a special populations counselor with the disadvantaged and the handicapped.

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Now, as one of the two teachers of the local Aqua-exercise class offered at the Swim Hutch in Carriere, (Folks team teaches the class with her partner and friend Olga Everett), she draws upon her love for educating once again. Folks does not exactly remember every detail of how the water aerobics class came to be but she knows that it was something she was meant to do. “I just really kinda fell into it, loved it and have been with it ever since.”

Folks said when she first started teaching it, she was unaware of her own medical condition, but knew there were others in the class that had serious health concerns. She was there for them and after being diagnosed with breast cancer, the class members immediately rallied around her — they even made her hats.

Among Folks’ many admirable qualities, and the list is indeed long, she does not shy away from talking about her illness in the hopes of helping others. She recently addressed a group of medical professionals and told them the story of her cancer diagnosis.

Folks had just received her yearly mammogram, which was clear, when she took the opportunity to have a breast exam done at a free health fair offered at the Picayune Family Health Center last April.

“The minute the nurse-practitioner touched my breast, she realized there was a problem,” said Folks who believes without the local clinic, she might still be undiagnosed today. She said as much during her speech.

Folks said maintaining her sense of humor is a big part of her treatment and to prove it, at the end of the speech, Folks bravely removed her wig and joked about the state of her bald head: “At first it was as smooth as a babies bottom, next it looked like a fuzzy peach and now it resembles a Chia Pet,” she laughed.

Folks is now halfway through her treatment. She began chemotherapy in June and had a lumpectomy performed in November. She is currently receiving another six weeks of radiation which began on December 29.

“Of course now there have been a lot of prayers on my behalf,” she said. She would like to thank so many people for their support, including the love of her life, her husband Percy W. Folks.

She also wants to especially thank her church family, her medical team, her water exercise group, the Retired Education Personnel of Pearl River County, her high school classmates and the entire Picayune Community.

“I’m just overwhelmed with the support I’ve gotten from so many, many, many groups.”

Folks stressed the importance of keeping up her exercise and fitness routine during her cancer treatment. She said it keeps her mobile and has helped keep her firm (she admitted to gaining weight undergoing chemo treatments). But most importantly the exercise keeps her going — she’s been able to maintain positivity through activity.

While she still has a bit of an uphill battle to climb, Folks keeps her blessings and “p’s” in her sight: prayer, praise, patience and perseverance.

Folks said, “Even if you think you’ve done everything you can, don’t miss any opportunity. Early detection is the key.” She hopes that everyone will keep their health in front of them along with their sense of humor in the New Year.