I was diagnosed at the age of 40. The diagnosis was unexpected, and quite daunting. I had not sought, or even thought, about needing a mammogram at that time. One of my dear friends gave me a coupon for a free mammogram, and even made the appointment for me.
In my case, the doctor explained that I also had microcalcifications all over my breast, which meant that if I hadn’t had the mammogram, the cancer would have remained undetected, even if I continued to perform monthly self-awareness exams.
When I turned 60, which also marked the 20th anniversary of my diagnosis, I biked more than 350 miles to raise funds to help Susan G Komen find a cure for breast cancer. My journey began in St Augustine, and for 7 days I rode my bike until I reached Miami. I averaged 15 mph, but was encouraged by my helpers, made up of family and friends, along the way. We made sure to have fun and enjoy the ride, but I was focused on reaching my goal- Miami!
Just like Race for the Cure, my ride ended at Bayfront Park. My family and friends were enthusiastically waiting for me. Their cheers and applause gave me all the strength I needed to push forth the few feet I had left to reach Bayfront Park. I felt welcomed and loved! Not only did I greet my family at the finish line, but I was escorted by City of Miami police and gave a few interviews of my journey.
I ended my ride by hugging my sons, and telling them “I did it for you.” From the day I was diagnosed, I did it for them. I found the courage from a place deep within because I refused to not be there for them in their adulthood. I fought cancer with sheer determination and to prove with actions to my children that you always have to be brave and push through!
I want to relate to women that it is important to have a mammogram every year. I cannot stress enough how early detection saved me, and it can do the same for you! When I was diagnosed, getting cancer at the age of 40 was “too young,” but it happened to me. Nowadays, cancer is being detected in even younger women. It can happen to any of us, that’s why it’s important to get screened and be aware.