October ends, breast cancer continues

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Breast cancer awareness gets a big boost in October. However, as the month comes to a close, the problem of breast cancer remains. Doctors and survivors agree: get screenings early and often, no matter what time of the year.

That’s because breast cancer, like other cancers, can often sneak up with little or no warning. Abilene Regional Medical Center OB-GYN Dr. Nicole Bullock explains, “With a lot of cancers, there’s not a lot of symptomatic findings, especially with early symptoms.”

That lack of warning is what makes exams so vital. They can reveal much more than expected. Self-exams aren’t a bad first step.

“Always knowing yourself is the best thing possible, so I don’t ever discourage self breast exams”, says Dr. Bullock. However, those exams aren’t flawless. That’s where professional help comes in handy. “The most important thing is to do clinical breast exams with your physician once a year, and then your mammograms.”

A mammogram was a literal life-saver for Billie Perkins. It helped doctors catch her breast cancer early. Billie says, “The doctor couldn’t even feel it when he checked it, because it was so deep in there.”

Almost five years later, Billie is cancer free. “I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to go through chemo or radiation. I’m still here to keep on spreading the news: take care of your body.”

Treatment isn’t always that easy, and sometimes, even today, it isn’t always successful. “We do still have, unfortunately, people who can die from breast cancer”, says Dr. Bullock. “But if you catch it early in that stage one or stage two, women survive that often. It’s that early diagnosis that helps.”

Billie had that early diagnosis, and takes advantage of her positive outcome every day. Her message is a cautionary one, reminding others that cancer does not discriminate, and can affect everyone. She simply says, “Take care of your body. Let your doctors know what’s going on with your body.”

One of the best tools remains the mammogram. Cost can be prohibitive, so Abilene Regional Medical Center is offering $99 mammogram vouchers. They can be used through this year, but are only available until the end of the month. You can visit mdsave.com/mammogram to see if you qualify for a reduced-cost exam.

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