LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. The earlier it's detected, the better your chance for survival. Women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram every year.
Even though you may be busy and think you'll get around to it, a current breast cancer patient will tell you not to wait.
"I was diagnosed in June with stage-three breast cancer, lobular breast cancer," said Linda Jeffries, a current patient at Unity Healthcare in Lafayette.
With October designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jeffries said she wanted to share her story so other women won't put off their regular check-ups when it comes to their breast health.
"Because that's what I did," she said. "I had a bad experience with a biopsy, with the person who was doing it and I told myself I was never going through that again."
Linda noticed a lump on her breast and kept telling herself she would go to the doctor but (as many of us would relate to that frame of mind) she got busy and put it off.
"Unfortunately that's not the thing to do," she explained.
Her doctor, Oncologist Glenn Papaioannou, agrees. The earlier a woman comes into his office, the better.
"Believe me, you know, as much as I love my job I don't like giving bad news," said Dr. Papaioannou.
Dr. Papaoiannou says regular checkups seem to fall along a social divide.
The American Cancer Society says only half of women over the age of 40 who are living in poverty actually get mammograms. Women are more likely to get screened if they live in affluent areas.
Jeffries would be quick to tell you not to worry about the statistics, just go get your yearly check up.
"I just chose not to at the time and I can't go backwards, so I just go forwards."
Linda is going forward. She said her tumor has shrunk and she is staying positive. She said she hopes this story speaks to women just like her.
"That's why I agreed to do this. One of the main reasons is that hopefully it will help one person, at least one," she said.
Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 according to the American Cancer Society. Clinical breast exams are suggested every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.
Also, starting in your 20s, women should be doing breast self-exams. Of course, should you notice anything unusual, call your doctor.
Keep in mind, these guidelines may vary for women with family history of breast cancer. Read more from the American Cancer Society's website on recent research and new statistics about breast cancer in the U.S.
If your insurance doesn't help with the cost of a mammogram or if you're currently uninsured, help is available. For example, check out the Women's Cancer Program at the YWCA .
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