Tonya Dixon is the type of woman you want to be your friend...

Tonya Dixon is the type of woman you want to be your friend.

She's the elementary teacher who hugs her first graders every morning. The mom who celebrates half birthdays. The gal who's game for a margarita and a good laugh.

But she's lived in fear since she was 7 that cancer would kill her, just like it killed her mom.

So when she discovered she could be tested for the hereditary genes that can cause breast and ovarian cancer, she willingly marched into the lab.

She tested positive.

Then, she decided to attack first by removing her ovaries and breasts.

And she agreed to let us follow her on her journey, which you can read about in this issue.

She welcomed me-a stranger-into her home. Into her life. Into her mind. (She and doctors at The James generously welcomed me into her surgeries, too, where I literally stood among the surgical teams.)

When it became clear Tonya's journey was going to take detours, she didn't call the story quits. She thought we would spend a summer together; almost two years later, I was sitting on a plane beside her, flying to Baltimore to watch her have nipples tattooed on.

I do not understand how it must feel to be on the other side of my notebook-on the side where you must answer the intimate questions, not ask them.

But I am grateful and humbled that Tonya trusted me with her story. It puts a face, and a heart, on a topic that is fascinating and important.

I hope you will read it, and that you'll let me know what you think.

Modern Marvel

Believe it or not, that's not the only story in this issue that took nearly two years. "Seasonal Stunner," our décor feature, showcases a Sunbury home in all four seasons. It normally would have taken one year, except that last winter, we didn't get a single substantial snowfall. Thank you, Mother Nature, for cooperating this year.

Amazing Deals

We're starting something new, and there's no catch: You just win big. The magazine is launching a program called The Boutique, which offers subscribers an exclusive perk valued at $25 or more with each issue. In this issue, for example, subscribers will find a coupon for half off a facial at Skin Perfect. In the May issue, they'll find a $25 gift card to 89 Fish & Grill. Want in? Subscribe to one year of Capital Style for $12 at Capital-Style.com.

Kristy Eckert, Editor

Have feedback? I want it! Email me at keckert@capital-style.com or Tweet me @kristyeckert.