By Jeannie Blaylock
First Coast News
"With my family history I felt like a sitting duck," Tracy Hastings says. Her mother had breast cancer and then a lumpectomy. Her grandmother, at age 91, is fighting breast cancer now for the third time.
So you might figure Tracy would feel discouraged. It's sort of like looking at a bulldozer heading toward you except you don't know when you'll get run over.
But Tracy decided years ago she wouldn't get run over. She started doing Buddy Check 12 faithfully. "I watch Buddy Check 12 and I love to hear the stories," Tracy says. Buddy Check 12 is Jeannie Blaylock's project with Baptist Medical Center. The stories of success run every month on TV on First Coast News.
Tracy even got two friends to start checking, as well. One of her buddies is in California. The other buddy is a bit farther away. Tracy says, "It's my girlfriend, Rhonda, who lives in Switzerland, not in St. Johns County but over the big pond."
They had fun chatting and reminding each other to do self exams. But all along Tracy knew she'd probably be the one battling breast cancer.
And now Tracy's story gets very interesting. Women, isten to what happened. Tracy says, "I had a mammogram in November. It showed tiny microcalcifications, which I found out since are an indication of change," Tracy explains. They show up as tiny white specks on the mammogram.
But she was told nothing was wrong. "They said you're fine. Everything is OK. They're benign. Come back in a year." And that's not unusual because many times the radiologist doesn't see any significant change to cause worry.
Then just about a month later she was at the gym doing her dreaded push-ups. "I hated them. They're evil," Tracy says. But when she got home she noticed a tiny spot of blood in her sports bra. Tracy says, "Sure enough when I was showering I was able to express blood through my nipple. I was on the phone to the doctor the next morning."
She and her husband could also feel something different behind her nipple. It wasn't just a single lump but a row of lumps, almost like hard, little beads all lined up. Breast cancer typically is hard or firm.
Considering her family history, Tracy opted for a bilateral mastectomy. She had both breasts removed. But she talks about it with glee. "You know what? I'm cancer free. They're bionic now! They can't kill me!" (She's had reconstruction to make new breasts.) She says doctors won't use the word, "cure." But she was told she was "98%" and "that's darn good."
Tracy's story is so upbeat because she caught her breast cancer early. "And early detection definitely saved my life. There's no question about it."
Tracy told her story to Margo Pope, another Buddy Check 12 success story. Margo is a well-known writer for the St. Augustine Record and she encouraged Tracy to call Jeannie at First Coast News and go on television. Tracy says, "You can't ignore Buddy Check. Don't let the fear stop you." She and her husband encourage all women to check.
If you'd like a free Buddy Check 12 kit mailed to you it's easy to do. Just call Baptist Medical Center at 904-202-CARE. The kits have reminder stickers for your calendar so you'll remember to do your self exam and remind your buddy. Mammograms and doctors' exams are important, too.
As for Tracy, she's reminding everyone to do Buddy Check 12. And that includes her daughter, who's now at higher risk of breast cancer, as well. But women should remember most breast cancers don't run in family. Women should all check. The number one risk factor for breast cancer is just being female.
First Coast News