It's been an interesting year for Alene McDermott.

On Jan. 2, she had a hysterectomy because two large masses had been discovered on her ovaries.

On Jan. 4, a second surgery cut a cancerous lump from her right breast.

On Aug. 17, she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Cancer has killed a few relatives before their time, she said in an interview before the surgeries, and she wanted to head it off with the Aug. 17 operations.

Now, one afternoon last week, the West Caln country singer was at her Philadelphia daughter's home, happy to be planning another December and January of music.

McDermott, 50, had just come from an hour-and-a-half session in which an anticancer drug was dripped into a vein.

Better than six-hour chemotherapy sessions earlier this year before her radical surgery.

"It's enjoyable," she said. "It's not a chemo drug, it doesn't make me sick" as the chemotherapy did.

"It gives me a chance," during the intravenous session, she said, "to put my feet up and watch TV."

This year, there was one other memorable date.

On April 28, a noon to 11 p.m. benefit concert took place at the West Caln Sportsmen's Club, to help with her finances, during the months that she could not be playing in any of the five bands in which she sings and plays guitar.

"The benefit was a huge success," she said. Judging from ticket sales, "about 800 to 900 people were there."

McDermott hasn't seemed to let the surgeries slow her.

"Four days after I came out of the hospital," she said, "I had a gig.

"Didn't play my guitar but sang a little bit."

It was not as huge as the benefit had been. "It was my friends' 50th birthday party - one reason that I forced myself to go."

The friends, twin sisters, celebrated their birthday at the Sadsburyville home of one of them and, she said, "about 70" folks showed up.

McDermott has been fast to get back into shape.

"I was back to the gym, like, five weeks after the surgery. A little sore, but I didn't care."

She's there three days a week, working on elliptical machines that simulate speed-walking or jogging.

On Dec. 22, she'll be playing at Ruffini's restaurant in Thorndale, and on New Year's Eve at the Stottsville Inn in Pomeroy, outside of Parkesburg, both 9 p.m. gigs with the band Neon Alie.

McDermott is very much a public personality, given her musical life. But she said the April 28 benefit "made me feel, like, I wasn't alone and gave me the spirit to move on."

She paused.

"Is there any way I could say a thank you to everyone who contributed and came to my benefit?" she asked.

You just did, she was told.