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MedWatch: Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; a time to increase awareness of the disease and, in turn, save more lives.

One of the best ways to do that is to catch the cancer early, which is why experts suggest most women start getting regular mammograms at age 40.

It’s also important to know your body and recognize when something’s not right.

“I was 50 and feeling fine and running 20-25 miles a week. I was a vegetarian.”

Janice Beyer was literally the picture of health.

She got mammograms and went to see her doctor when she found a lump in her breast.

“She said, ‘Looking at your health history, you don’t have any breast cancer in your family, relatively young for that,’ but she said it’s important that we rule it out so I said that’s good, let’s rule it out,” explained Janice.

But that’s not what happened.

“That’s when I knew during the ultrasound when she did it, she just stopped and there was no talking, and I looked over at the screen,” said Janice.

Janice had breast cancer.

Her care team at the Cowell Family Cancer Center determined she would need surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Hematologist oncologist Yelena Kier was one of them.

“I met Dr. Kier and I remember she looked me in the face and said, ‘You’re going to be just fine,’ and I thought I have to go with the people who do this for a living. This is not my area specialty, so I have to find people I trust and those who will do the best for me,” explained Janice.

Right now physicians in the Munson Healthcare system like Dr. Kier are encouraging women to do what’s best for them: get a mammogram.

“We’re having a campaign for getting mammograms in all of our locations for the month of October for women to be able to set those up and do work with financial navigators if financial concerns come up,” said Dr. Kier.

All too often, women find a reason why they can’t get to an appointment.

“If you’re not healthy, you’re not going to be able to put your family first for a long time. I think that we always have to prioritize our health before soccer or before other games or above swimming lessons, and although you want to do everything for everyone else, you have to care for yourself as well,” explained Dr. Kier.

Today, after months of treatment, Janice has a different outlook than the day she was diagnosed.

“I wouldn’t say it’s pleasant or easy, but it’s manageable. It’s not as bad as people think,” said Janice.

She’s back running with her friend, the same woman who encouraged her to go see her doctor right after she found her lump.

“Tell someone who’s going to hold you accountable, because it’s scary and it’s easy to want to put your head in the sand and not do anything about it,” explained Janice. “Like I told my friends, whether or not you have cancer has already been decided, so it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re going to find out and do something about it or not have as many choices.”

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