October is full of fall festivities, pumpkin carving, Halloween, and family time. Alongside all of these activities, it is also Breast Cancer Awareness month! This subject is especially important to me seeing as my oldest daughter Shannon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. This month is all about raising awareness in order to help support life-saving research and life-changing support.
My daughter was lucky enough to be diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer. Stage zero breast cancer typically doesn’t have any symptoms that are noticeable. In simple terms, stage zero is when abnormal cells have been found in the breast but have not spread throughout the surrounding breast tissue. If left untreated, the cancer will progress. When found at stage zero, the survival rate is around 99%.
In the case of my daughter, she had gone in for her annual mammogram and the doctors noticed a very minor change. After noticing this small change it was determined to be early stage breast cancer. In her case, there was only a minor change with no lump present. The ONLY way to have seen these changes was through the mammogram. We have no risk factors or history in our family so it was not even on our radar to be concerned. After finding this out, Shannon went through radiation and a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous cells. She now is cancer free thanks to early detection and staying on top of her annual appointments. All in all, I am sharing this story to stress the importance of staying on top of your yearly mammograms. In our case, this is what potentially saved our daughter’s life. After this scare, our family continues to hold each other accountable for screening and I encourage all women and men to help your loved ones stay on top of their appointments.