There are a number of ways women can detect breast cancer early.
One Connecticut woman, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form, shared her story with Eyewitness News.
“I have a high family history of breast cancer,” said Carmen Rodriguez.
Doctors said breast cancer is not only the most common cancer among women, it’s also the second leading cause of death among women in the U.S.
Rodriguez said she’s all too familiar with it.
“We've lost a lot of family members both on the maternal and paternal side of the family,” she said.
However, she said she used the losses as motivation to take command of her own health.
She said she started getting mammograms at age 35.
“Faithfully I do my mammograms,” Rodriguez said. “I do self-breast examinations, which is very important.”
Because of her vigilance, she was able to fight a battle that was passed down to her.
“I was diagnosed with what they call triple-negative breast cancer,” she explained, “which tends to be a very aggressive type of cancer.”
Aside from her family history, Rodriguez said she had no signs it was coming.
Her mammogram from the year before was perfectly clear.
“Some breast cancers for unexplained reasons grow slowly over time,” said Dr. Jennifer Logan, a breast radiologist at Jefferson Radiology. “And others can be--within 2 months--could grow very rapidly.”
The latter was Rodriguez’s case.
“That tumor was growing rapidly and by me being vigilant, and going in to have that mammogram, and going in on a timely basis--we caught it on-time,” Rodriguez said.
“There's lots of horror stories about how terrible it is to have a mammogram done,” Logan said. “The truth is, it's not the most comfortable thing but it's certainly worth the time and the discomfort to have a look and make sure that there's nothing starting there that we need to know about.”
After all, Rodriguez said a mammogram could save a life.
“If I would've been nonchalant about it and say, 'well I'm too busy I can put it off for a few months,’ it would have been life or death,” she said.
For women with dense breasts, a second step is recommended.
“[It’s a] screening breast ultrasound and that's basically using an ultrasound machine to scan the entire breast and look for unsuspecting disease,” Logan said.
Now, Rodriguez said she’s celebrating her third year as a survivor.
“Even though I've gone through a double mastectomy, even though I've gone through chemotherapy, you can't just relax,” she said. “I urge every woman to go get those mammograms. Don't procrastinate, do not wait. Just listen to that little voice and stay healthy!”
For more information about Jefferson Radiology, click here.
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