By Jeannie Blaylock
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- This isn't a joke. It's not even a naughty holiday ad. The vast majority of women don't have perfect bodies like super models. So we don't tend to gaze at ourselves naked in the mirror every day.
But it's something you might want to do at least once a month.
Consider the story of Elizabeth McMann. She's done Buddy Check 12 faithfully for years.
One month, though, she had just gone through moving. She says she was tired and "not in the mood" to check.
Then her buddy called. She pushed and pushed. She told Elizabeth she should get up and go look in the mirror that very instant.
Elizabeth fussed. But she did it. Good thing, too, because she found a tiny lump the size of a fat pin head. And in the mirror she noticed something different. There was a dimpling pattern on her breast.
Both those signs could signal breast cancer. They could mean nothing at all, as well. But Elizabeth wanted an answer.
So she called her doctor. He did an exam and told Elizabeth there was no lump. Elizabeth said, "Excuse me. There IS a lump."
Then, in a very wise move, Elizabeth went for a second opinion. She got a mammogram and a sonogram from Dr. John Shahan at Putnam Radiology Group in Palatka. Dr. Shahan confirmed she did have a lump.
To Elizabeth it was a victory. "I felt like doing the football," she says. "Hey, I know I was right!"
On the sonogram even an untrained eye can see the dark mass. Dr. Shahan told Elizabeth she did have breast cancer but she caught it early enough he believes she'll beat it.
Dr. Shahan applauds Buddy Check 12. "Oh, I think it's wonderful. In her case it may have saved her life," he says.
"It did. It did. Definitely," Elizabeth says. She knows she was not focused on checking until her buddy pushed her into it.
Elizabeth is having chemotherapy now. She chose to have her breast removed, too. Does that bother her husband? Not a bit. Mac says what's counts isn't on the outside. He says, "What's important resides inside."
So, ladies, check in the shower, check lying down and go ahead and check in the mirror. So what if we all don't look like Jessica Simpson! The point is to stay alive.
And don't just figure your buddy is checking because we've been doing Buddy Check for so many years now. (Fourteen, to be exact.) Your phone call could keep her alive for her family.
Be a pest. That's a good thing.
By the way, Elizabeth has discovered a place in Palatka open to everyone. It's called The Pink Door. It's a lingerie/gift shop for women fighting breast cancer. Elizabeth says she wears a prosthesis but it keeps slipping. She had never seen a pocket bra with a special place to insert the prosthesis. The Pink Door also has special caps cut lower to cover baldness when a woman is sensitive to how she looks during chemotherapy. In fact, it's a pretty place to shop with all sorts of feminine items. The Pink Door is at 306 Oak Street in Palatka. The owner, Susan Loosberg, says she helps women get Medicare to pay for breast prosthesis.
If you're low on money and you're worried about something in your breast there is help in Putnam County. For women over 50 the number to call is 386-326-3200. For women under 50 it's 877-539-2543.
You can also call the St. Johns County Health Department. It has a program to help women get mammograms and medical appointments when finances are tight.
No matter what pay attention to your breasts. If you notice any change call a doctor.
For a free Buddy Check 12 kit with reminder stickers for your 2007 calendar just call our partner, Baptist, at 904-202-CARE. We ship Buddy Check 12 kits to any spot in the world for free.
Buddy Check 12 has saved more than 180 women on the First Coast from dying of breast cancer.
First Coast News