By Jeanne Blaylock
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- An Attorney says Buddy Check saved her Life. However, her breast cancer was not a lump.
I liked our new Buddy Check 12 success story right away. Jeanne Helton is a UF grad. (If you're not a Gator, hang on. I promise you'll like her.) She can laugh about botching a recipe. (She tried microwaving the yeast for homemade rolls. Total disaster.) And she can eat a fireball without taking it out of her mouth once. (I have to yank it out at least 3 or 4 times when I hit the hot part.)
Jeanne pronounces her name "Jeannie." That's another reason I liked her immediately. (Of course, I'm partial.)
I tell you all this because Jeanne Helton is truly a down-to-earth woman, just like the rest of us. And like most of us she never dreamed she'd get breast cancer. No one in her family has it. But she knows now most breast cancers aren't inherited. We're all at risk just be the mere fact we're female.
Jeanne is an attorney with Smith, Hulsey, and Busey in downtown Jacksonville. She tells her experience as you'd expect from a lawyer, step by step chronologically.
She says in 1992 she was at her doctor's office and saw a Buddy Check 12 kit. Her doctor encouraged her to read it and she did. Seven months later she says, "I was in the shower and I had an area about the size of a quarter in my left breast. There was a thickening." She remembers seeing in our Buddy Check 12 kit that a cancer might be a lump or a thickening. Jeanne says the thickened area felt like a bug bite but it wasn't red.
So Jeanne went to the doctor. He couldn't feel a lump. In fact, the mammogram, she says, showed nothing wrong. The sonogram didn't either. But Dr. Jack Crump at Baptist Medical Center just kept saying he wasn't satisfied.
Eventually, a surgical biopsy showed Jeanne did have breast cancer. But throughout the entire process no one could ever feel a lump. And that's a key lesson for all of us to remember.
Jeanne says she was thrilled to beat breast cancer. "For me my faith in the Lord was very important." She was grateful to God for support. And she was thankful to Buddy Check.
Her cancer was out. And it seemed that was that. In her words, "I was just bopping along. Everything was fine."
Then about 2 ½ years later she was at a family wedding. "I was just standing there and I felt a sensation in my left breast." It was odd, she says, like "a rubber band popping" inside her. Later that night when she was getting undressed she noticed something. There was a drop of blood in her bra at the tip. "I was very alarmed."
And sure enough. She had breast cancer again.
But before you sigh and feel discouraged listen to the rest of her story. She caught it so early-both times, there was no cancer in a single lymph node. She was able to skip chemotherapy the first time and opted for a mastectomy the second time. Now she's had reconstruction and feels "great."
"I'm so much better off than someone who lives in a dream world and think that it's not going to happen to me," Jeanne says. "I know a lot of women who still don't do breast self exams. I ask myself. 'WHY NOT DO THAT?'"
Jeanne is also saying thanks to Baptist Medical Center, our Buddy Check 12 partner. It's the Buddy Check kit which saved her life and Baptist has mailed more than a half million kits to women all over the world-totally free-for the past 12 years.
Do you have a Buddy Check 12 kit? Just call 202-CARE and you'll get as many as you'd like for free.
As Jeanne says, if you think you're too busy running your kids here and there, think again. Doing Buddy Check now and finding breast cancer early, Jeanne says, is crucial.
"It can mean in five years you'll be here to take your kids to school."
So a huge thank you to Jeanne for sharing her story. She's young, in her early 40's. I ask her, "What do you want to do now?" Her answer? Learn to fly an airplane.
She's conquered breast cancer. So why not?
But, ladies, please ask yourself right now, "Am I being smart or stupid about all this?" Then look at your family and decide now you'll do Buddy Check 12…self exams, mammograms, and doctors' exams. Remind a buddy and feel good you're doing your best to stay alive.
First Coast News