She had noticed a lump in her breast, but was busy with life – being a mother, having a career, taking care of the house. Her health had to wait. She couldn’t burden anyone else by sharing her concerns and have them worry about her.
As time passed, she said to herself, “Maybe I should go get checked out.”
She made an appointment and went on with her busy life. The date came and she almost didn’t go. Her children had started school and had appointments of their own with soccer and homework. But she asked a friend for help. She went in to the doctor’s office worrying about the time it was taking away from her family.
Once inside, the doctor asked about her symptoms. She shared she’d noticed a change in the way her right breast felt and looked. After an exam, the doctor quickly recommended a mammogram and an oncologist appointment.
It took her another two months to get her mammogram. Just one day later, the oncologist office she had an appointment with in a few weeks, called and asked her to come in right away. She did and she heard the words, “You have breast cancer.”
She wasn’t sure what to say, what to think. She received information on her treatment options, but had tuned out. How could this happen to her? She had no history of breast cancer in her family. Once home, she shared the news with her husband. He asked why she had not said anything, why she had waited.
Over the next few months, she underwent surgery, treatments and all the side effects that come with it. For once in her adult life, she was taking care of herself. Her family cared for themselves and provided her with love and support. She realized she was very close to not being there for them at all.
This is the story of one survivor.
Although she asked to remain anonymous, this is the story of many survivors – mothers, wives, career women, homemakers, even some men. Many tend to put others first before taking care of themselves and sometimes it’s too late. For this survivor, thankfully, it wasn’t.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is almost a 100 percent survival rate for stage 1 breast cancer, 93 percent for stage 2, 73 percent for stage 3. To gain this positive outcome, one must conduct monthly breast self-examinations, obtain a yearly mammogram after age 40 and visit a doctor regularly – immediately if an abnormality if found.
How does Links for Life fit in? Part of our mission is to educate the public about breast health. We do this through events, workshops, support groups, office visits, media, website, social media and much more. Links for Life’s mission encompasses challenging women to be aware of their breast health. We provide support to those affected by breast cancer and their families with a Comprehensive Breast Health Program that funds mammograms, ultrasounds and needle biopsies for those who are uninsured or underinsured. Links for Life also provides emotional support through our office staff and support groups.
We are able to do all of this thanks to the generous support of our many sponsors, supporters, volunteers and community partners. Links for Life will continue to help people like the one in this story and we hope that this article inspires you to be aware of your own breast health, see a doctor regularly and, most importantly, to realize that it’s OK to make yourself and health a priority.
Links for Life: Service. Support. Survival.
— Irma Cervantes Lancaster
President, Board of Directors