As you many of you may know, for 11 years I’ve participated in the 3-Day, 60 mile (97 km) Breast Cancer walk in San Diego, CA. This education update is about what happened a few days after 2011 3-Day Walk.
My best friend seriously detests going to the doctor, so she asked me to drive her to a physical exam. She didn’t want to miss her appointment… again. You too may know someone like this? As we left the clinic, her doctor reminded sternly, “Make sure you get a mammogram this year. Don’t skip it, Again!”
That’s all I needed to hear- fresh back from the 3-Day Walk- the look on my face told her, there was a mammogram in her near future. She promised to make an appointment after the holiday season, but it turns out she didn’t mean January, February or even March.
The importance of early detection is stressed during the 3-Day Walks, so I bugged her until she went and of course she made me drive. As a scientist, I really appreciate that doctors now have access to NASA developed computer imaging techniques originally used to find very tiny, faint stars. This advanced technology, allowed the doctor to find extremely tiny specks of calcium (calcifications) inside most of the milk ducts of her right breast. Usually these aren’t a problem, but widely spread calcifications can indicate early stage cancer so, a needle biopsy was recommended, just to be safe. She agreed on the condition that I would come along to explain any technical lingo the doctors used… and to drive of course.
Many shudder at the thought of a needle, so I was really proud of her to joke with the doctor afterwards that it wasn’t nearly as bad as she imaged. Still, I could tell she was a little frightened, so when the doctor asked who to call with the lab results- I agreed when she volunteered me as the contact. It NEVER occurred to me only four days later, I would have to tell my best friend that she had breast cancer.
After the doctor called, it took me two days to tell her; I just couldn’t find the words. Then it came to me, I would tell her how incredibly lucky she was! It may seem like a strange thing to tell someone with breast cancer, but this technology found her cancer when it was just “Stage 0”; so early that the cancer cells were still meandering around inside the milk ducts and hadn’t had time to organize an invasion- truly amazing if you think about it! Nonetheless, because most of the breast was affected, a full mastectomy was required- but that CURED her of cancer!
Her doctors say she’s now completely cancer-free and needs NO radiation and NO chemotherapy! That my friends, is the incredible and amazing power of “early detection” in real-life action!
Please, Get Your Mammograms! They can find cancer earlier than ever before. So, don’t miss your chance for another big ol’ helping of Life. You deserve your fair share, so take it now and take action! You owe it to everyone that loves you and especially yourself.