Early Detection Matters: Stories of Survival & Hope

In conjunction with Breast Cancer Action Month, Mammography Day is taking place this Friday, October 20, serving as a reminder of the critical role that early detection plays in the battle against breast cancer. While imaging does not catch all cancers, many of the extraordinary women from our community have credited mammography (as well as other types of breast exams) with saving their lives. Join us as we reflect on these personal stories, sharing excerpts from our In Her Words series, highlighting the importance of regular imaging for us and our loved ones. 

"At 27 years old, I was a newlywed planning for a family when I found a lump in my breast. Within a matter of weeks, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B aggressive triple positive breast cancer. At the time, I wasn’t aware of any family history, though I later learned my grandmother had breast cancer in her late 60s. I would go on to find out that I had no genetic mutations to “explain” the cancer, and to this day, I am baffled by a cancer diagnosis hitting me when I was in the best shape and healthiest I had ever been."Anna Crollman

"I was diagnosed with IDC, Stage 3c, HER2+ breast cancer at 35. Although breast cancer runs in my paternal family line, I was always told that didn't increase my risk. I did genetic testing following my diagnosis and my dad's subsequent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and while I do believe there is something going on there, so far I've tested negative to all known gene mutations."April Stearns

"I had two ultrasounds and a needle biopsy, all on the same day. I also had a subsequent MRO once we knew it was cancer, but all the initial diagnostics, including that original mammogram, did not detect cancer."Samantha Harris

"I was diagnosed right after I found a lump under my nipple on my left breast. I have no family history of the disease and do not carry any breast cancer genes. I shudder to think about what could have happened if the tumor was growing deep inside my breast, surely it would not have been found at stage 2. My tumor was quite aggressive and triple positive."Christine Handy

"I noticed a lump during a self-exam and immediately called my Primary Care Physician. He referred me to an ultrasound, and from there they took a biopsy of both my lymph nodes and the lump. The lymph nodes were negative, but the lump was malignant. I saw a genetic counselor who determined there were no genetic mutations known to have caused my cancer. I did not have a family history."Jen Hodson

"I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at age 41. I am so incredibly thankful that I had already been doing regular mammograms for a few years. My paternal grandmother passed from metastatic breast cancer when I was 37, so it was always in the back of my mind. I was early stage, low grade, ER/PR+ HER2- and BRCA-. Unfortunately, 4 years later, I had a new primary occurrence in my other breast – again caught with a mammogram – with very similar pathology." Michelle Beck

"I was diagnosed with triple-positive Stage 2b, Grade 3 DCIS in September of 2013 at age 40 during my annual physical. My doctor found a lump and I was immediately sent downstairs for my first mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and the bad news."Christi Nelson 

"My mom had a lump both times of her diagnosis, but one day I noticed a change in mine. It wasn’t a lump, but the center of my breast had sunken in. I chalked it up to "old age" (so I told myself) and actually ignored it for a few months." – Tina Conrad

"After the birth of my first child, I began years of preventative screenings that were emotionally and financially-taxing. Then in 2012, I had an ultrasound that revealed a lump, but luckily through a biopsy, results came back as benign. That experience was a wakeup call for me, so I decided to lower my risk as much as possible and had a preventative bilateral mastectomy at age 31 in the spring of 2013."Kristen Carbone

The National Breast Cancer Foundation's Free Mammography 101 Guide is available here. This eBook takes the guesswork out of the documents needed and the questions recommended to ask when seeing a doctor for a mammogram. Whether you have never had breast cancer or you've already received a diagnosis and are looking to prevent recurrence, it also includes a checklist of symptoms to bring up if you've experienced any abnormalities in your breasts since your last exam.

In the fight against breast cancer, knowledge is power, and early detection can make all the difference. On Mammography Day and throughout Breast Cancer Action Month, let us come together to celebrate survivors, support those currently facing the disease and raise awareness about the lifesaving potential of regular screenings. By sharing these stories and advocating for early detection, we can contribute to the ongoing battle against breast cancer and hopefully, save lives.