A View from the Top

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am here to remind you to perform self-exams once a month and to get a mammogram every year. Early detection saves lives. Just ask me; I am a two-year survivor and had no history of breast cancer in my family. 

Did you know that one out of eight women will have breast cancer in her lifetime? Did you know that 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease? Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they too should self-examine.

Here are tips that may help remind you: Mark your calendar for the same day every month to do a self-exam. Or, have a buddy system where you and a friend remind each other to check your body on a monthly basis.  

My dog Buckie actually made me aware of the lump in my breast. He kept rubbing against me and wouldn’t let up. It hurt and I couldn’t figure out the cause. I had to turn a certain way to find the lump. I had a mammogram 11 months prior, so it never crossed my mind that it could be cancer. But I called my doctor anyway to schedule a mammogram right away. I was a radiological technician, so when I saw the films, I pretty much knew that I was in trouble. The radiologist called my doctor and an appointment was made for me to see the surgeon the next day. I had biopsies in the surgeon’s office that confirmed the diagnosis by the mammogram. I was scheduled for a lumpectomy a few weeks later. The tumor had grown to the size of a golf ball and it was confirmed that I had stage 3 ductal carcinoma. I underwent chemotherapy and had 33 treatments of radiation after the chemo. 

During my treatment, I met so many young women who had breast cancer. I knew that I had to tell my story and encourage women to do regular self-exams at an early age, whether they had a family history or not. I was asked by CreekTV to participate in a video documentary of my journey, which included my treatments and advice on early detection. It wasn’t easy, but I was brought up to find the “good” in every bad situation. The video has been viewed over 1,000 times, so I hope that it’s helped some women along the way.  

My husband Frank was my biggest cheerleader and my friends were awesome. It’s been two years now, and I thank God every day for the help I was given. 

So remember, early detection saves lives. Self-examine every month and have your mammogram once a year. Spread the word. ?

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