I have a picture of myself and my good friend, Cathy, smiling at the start line of the Susan G. Komen 5k race last year.
It was a really hot day in Tupelo and the course had some hills, but I had a good race and managed to place second in my age group. I felt healthy, strong and happy to support breast cancer awareness … little did I know at that very time I had breast cancer growing inside of me.
I’m like a lot of the mothers and wives reading this. In fact, we may have passed each other in the commissary or on the road. We exercise and eat healthy. We are busy with work, with carpooling our kids to activities and thinking that breast cancer is awful yet something that happens to other women, especially if you don’t have a single risk factor like me.
I don’t know if it was participating in the race that spurred me to make an appointment for a mammogram, but I figured I should since it had been two years since my one and only other mammogram. I just thought to myself, why not? Those two little words have saved me a lot of pain and fear during the last six months. Why not?
I called radiology, made the appointment and was in and out in less than 40 minutes. The entire process was easy. As a result of that quick appointment, I am one of the women saved by early detection. Shortly after my mammogram I was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. It was so early that I couldn’t feel a lump, it was only 2mm in size, and I wouldn’t have found it myself for quite a while.
The cancer would have spread to my lymph nodes, but because of early detection, it was taken care of before it got to that point. My road did not include chemotherapy because my cancer was caught early. I have had some surgeries, but I am recovered and am back to my life. I am so lucky, and I feel so grateful for the screening tests that we have. There’s a reason that you hear about early detection all the time in reference to breast cancer.
Don’t let fear of the exam, or fear of bad news if you have found a lump to keep you from getting your mammogram. One in eight women are diagnosed, most of those without a family history of breast cancer. It’s simple to call and the appointment is quick, and then we get on with our lives. Why not?