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Breast Cancer Survivors Remind Women to Get Annual Screenings
More than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year.
That is more than 230,000 mothers, sisters, and daughters who will have to fight the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.
Doctors at SIU's Simmons Cancer Institute treat nearly 1,500 women each year who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are nearly 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. We caught up with two of them right here in central Illinois.
"I just noticed changes in my breast and I just didn't ignore it," Springfield dental hygienist Beth Steffen said. "I just knew something was wrong and it didn't go away, so I just followed up with it."
Steffen never thought she would have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I went in and talked with my doctor, and we did a mammogram and we did an ultrasound and we did a needle biopsy and it came back positive," said Steffen.
Steffen tested positive for a stage two invasive ductal carcinoma.
"She called my mom up and we were sitting at the kitchen table and she was like 'well, I got my news today,' and it was a big shock," said sister Lisa Vanravenswaay.
It was a shock which prompted Vanravenswaay to give herself a breast examination.
"I go home, and then you're like checking and feeling around, and you're like, 'hmmm what's this,' and it started getting bigger and bigger and fast, and then I was like, 'okay I gotta get this checked out,'" Vanravenswaay said.
After a trip to the doctor, Vanravenswaay too was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Robert Mocharnuk of Simmons Breast Cancer Center said both Lisa and Beth had a higher risk of getting cancer due to genetics.
"Those who have family histories with a member of their family diagnosed with cancer at a young age, that women should probably have her first screening mammogram 10 years younger than at the time of diagnosis of the family member," said Mocharnuk.
Beth was diagnosed in June 2010, and her sister Lisa was diagnosed just two months later. Today, the two sisters are survivors.
"You do what you gotta do to get through everything, the surgeries, the treatment," Beth said. "I never really thought 'why me why me.' I mean, why not me. It could happen to anyone."
Both the doctors and the survivors stress the importance of knowing your own body by giving yourself monthly breast examinations and getting your annual mammogram.
"Mammogram Mondays" are back all through the month of October.
Breast cancer screening appointments are available every Monday afternoon in October, through the Regional Cancer Partnership of Illinois. The screenings are for uninsured and under-insured women 40 years or older, or those who have a family history of breast cancer.
Appointments are available at the Simmons Cancer Institute on West Carpenter Street from 4-7 p.m. and at St. John's Women's Center on Lincolnshire Boulevard from 1-4 p.m.
Call 217-788-4042 or click here for more information.