A fellow Girl Scout leader and I were talking at an event when she told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer through a routine mammogram and she’d had a mastectomy. I had been so busy at work that I hadn’t had a mammogram for a full year. She grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “You have to promise me that tomorrow you will call and set up the appointment.”
I had the mammogram a month later. After my husband and I heard the news that I had DCIS, she was the first person I told, and I thanked her for saving my life.
The phone call confirming the diagnosis came the Monday before Thanksgiving, and I told my children before we drove home to Virginia to visit family. I told them that it’s very early and I’m going to be OK, but I decided not to tell my parents because I didn’t want to worry them. I have three older sisters, and none of them had had a recent mammogram. Just like my friend did for me, I pulled them all aside and said you have to promise me that you’ll make that appointment. They all did, and they were all fine.
I chose to have a mastectomy and had no problems. The weekend after the surgery we planned to go to a museum, and I said, “Let’s go to a dog shelter instead.” My daughter found a Blue Heeler puppy and we all fell in love with him. We adopted him on the spot and named him Ferris. He was the best therapy for everyone in the house. We were all busy concentrating on the puppy, training him, taking care of him, and he got everyone out walking him together. When he would come and lay on my chest at night it felt really good.
Now I bring it up with everyone I talk to … you HAVE to get a mammogram. What if I had put it off another year? My scout leader friend provided tons of support throughout the entire process, giving me suggestions for post-surgery and encouraging me. She’s a true lifesaver!
Betty is Director of Promotion and Public Service at abc27 and lives in Hampden Township, Cumberland County with her husband David, son Billy, daughter Nikki … and Ferris!