It was a routine annual mammogram. Beverly McKenney had no reason to think otherwise.
“I have no cancer in my family, no history,” she said. “And I had no symptoms.”
But instead of the usual reassuring letter that the Springfield woman had grown accustomed to receiving, McKenney received a phone call a few days later. The next few weeks were a whirlwind. There were follow-up appointments, a biopsy and countless questions.
How big was it? How aggressive? Did we catch it early? The answers were: small – 6 millimeters to be exact; not aggressive and yes. McKenney’s mammogram diligence paired with the use of 3-D mammography meant that her cancer was found early.
Three-dimensional mammography – also called digital breast tomosynthesis – creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using X-rays. While a conventional mammogram creates a two-dimensional image of the breast, tomosynthesis uses several low-dose images from different angles around the breast to create the 3-D picture. Researchers believe that this relatively new breast imaging technology will make breast cancers easier to see in dense breast tissue and will make breast screening more comfortable.
McKenney is a believer.
“It’s a Godsend,” she said. “I found out so quickly and so early. I would tell anyone, if it’s available to you, get a 3-D mammogram.”
There was still the matter of treatment, which included a lumpectomy and 21 recently completed radiation treatments.
“In the beginning, I remember thinking ‘why me.’ And now, today, knowing I made it through, it’s just amazing,” she said.
McKenney is one of the estimated 266,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the United States alone. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 40,000 women will succumb to the disease this year. But the 5-year relative survival rate for localized cancers is 99 percent – music to the 67-year-old woman’s ears.
McKenney was determined to become a survivor and is likewise determined to help others facing a breast cancer diagnosis. She and her team will participate in the upcoming Springfield Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Making Strides events are designed to raise funds and awareness. The Springfield walk is today, Oct. 6, getting underway at the Springfield Regional Cancer Center at 9 a.m.
Approximately 1,500 walkers participated in last year’s event as the Springfield walk raised close to $70,000. The Springfield Real Men Wear Pink raised more than $9,000 and they have doubled their efforts this year with eight “Real Men,” up from four last year.
“Springfield is really making a difference,” event chairperson Teresa Hawke said. “We are getting the word out that early diagnosis is the key and that it takes everyone, working together, to beat cancer.”
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