By Jeannie Blaylock
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Her sister died of breast cancer at age 38. So Debbie Daniels in St. Augustine ramped up her vigilance.
She cut out meat. She started exercising.
And she became very loyal to Buddy Check 12.
Debbie says she was eating dinner and watching First Coast News. She heard me pestering everyone about doing a self exam. It was Buddy Check 12 day, the 12th.
Watching TV, she thought, “I haven’t done it this month. Usually I’m faithful.”
She lay down with her arm over her head and did a self exam. “And sure enough I found a little lump. It was about the size of a pea,” Debbie says. It was breast cancer.
If you’re reading this article in a hurry, here’s the point to slow down and pay attention.
I’d like you to get two main points from Debbie’s experience:
1) DON’T BE TIMID ABOUT CHECKING YOUR NIPPLE.
Debbie’s lump felt like a small pebble. That’s typical. But she found it in a place many women may not check. It was right to the edge of her nipple.
So…make sure you check your nipple and right around it. Don’t just make circles and sort of forget that area.
Doctors tell me the nipple area is the second most common place for breast cancer. The most common is the upper quadrant toward the armpit.
2) DON’T KID YOURSELF THAT A YEARLY MAMMOGRAM IS ENOUGH.
Debbie went in for a mammogram and a sonogram. Neither found her lump.
Mammograms are crucial. They save thousands of lives.
But Dr. Charles Burkett at Radiology Associates says mammograms miss 10-15% of breast cancers. I talked with Dr. Burkett in St. Augustine and he showed Debbie and me her mammography images.
I asked him, “Why can she feel the lump and the machines can’t see it?”
Dr. Burkett says, “Sometimes it’s a thickening without actually being a round mass.”
Other times the breast tissue is dense and the images don’t show a lump.
So what do you take from this?
Always get mammograms. But also do a monthly self exam and have a doctor perform an exam, too, when you go.
As for Debbie, she’s spending hours in “therapy.” That means she’s creating mosaics from tiny pieces of glass. Her husband has turned over a shed for her art haven.
Debbie makes everything from benches with a breast cancer ribbon design to picture frames showing the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
Debbie says doctors are telling her she’s caught her breast cancer so early it’s called a stage zero. (Typically, you hear about stages 1 – 4.) Still, though, with her family history she may choose a double mastectomy.
If you’d like a Buddy Check 12 kit, we’ve made it easy for you. Just call our partner, Baptist Health, at 202-CARE. You will receive a free kit in the mail. We never charge anyone for postage and we’ll mail kits anywhere in the world.
Buddy Check 12 has saved several hundred women on the First Coast from dying of breast cancer. Remember, if you find any change in your breast, especially a lump that’s hard, call a doctor. Only a biopsy can verify if it’s truly cancer or not.
If Buddy Check 12 has helped you find cancer, I’d love to talk with you. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Coast News