I have worked for the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) for 21 years. For seventeen of those years, I worked with uninsured or underinsured women to make certain they were getting free mammograms. This was a very rewarding time for me, in which I met with women at area Montgomery County hospitals on the day of their scheduled appointment to offer support and teach breast self-exams. I am now 62 years old. This year when I had my annual mammogram, the right breast showed some change.
There is a history of breast cancer in my family. My grandmother died from breast cancer and my mother, after being diagnosed as well, had a mastectomy and lived the remainder of her life cancer free. I was fully aware of what my plans would be… to start and continue the screening process early! So at this year’s screening, after having various pictures taken through a follow up ultrasound, I felt that something might be different this time.
I was called in to speak to the radiologist. I knew from experience with so many of the women I helped at MCHD, that this was probably not going to be good news. The radiologist confirmed my fears. She explained that because of the changes seen on the ultrasound, a biopsy would need to be performed. It took about a week to get the results of the biopsy (it felt like a lifetime).
The results were in. I had Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) which would require a mastectomy. The diagnosis hit me like a heavy weight. My mind was racing with so many questions: What does this mean?, Has it spread to my lymph nodes?, What kind of treatment do I need? How am I going to do this? Will I survive?
In April, 2013 my right breast was removed and I am currently in the process of having breast reconstruction. Today, I am living cancer-free and celebrating life. My friends, family and coworkers are the support system that gets me through this chapter in my life one day at a time. I share my story with you to show you the importance of early detection. My annual screening saved my life.