Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The importance of yearly checkups are vital

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October is breast cancer awareness month, so WETM-TV and Guthrie are once again teaming up to bring you everything you need to know about early detection and life-saving treatments.

Doctors recommend yearly screening mammograms beginning at the age of 40. Debra Denman of Dryden knew she was due for hers but couldn’t find the time in her busy schedule.

“It seemed like life just kept getting in the way of going and following up. I’d always been so healthy,” said Denman. “I kept thinking, I’ll do it next year, I’ll do it next year.”

Denman felt healthy, so when she finally made it in and doctors saw a spot that they wanted to biopsy, she figured it was nothing. Until she got the diagnosis that brought her busy life to a screeching halt, doctors telling Denman she had stage 2 breast cancer.

“I said to him, am I going to die, am I going to get through this, what’s my prognosis?” Denman recalled. “Because it really hit me that wow, this is serious.”

The medical team at Guthrie offering Denman hope as she began what would turn into almost a full year of treatment.

“When patients first hear about their diagnosis of cancer, they’re paralyzed with fear. It’s our responsibility as a team and as a provider that I give them all the information and give them the best care,” said Dr. Vineela Kasireddy of Guthrie Breast Cancer Center.

And while the transformation from patient to survivor comes with challenges along the way, Dr. Kasireddy explains that new research is helping to make the journey a little easier.

“It is an exciting time to be in oncology because there is a lot of research happening in breast cancer and I think there are a lot of promising drugs in the pipeline. We’re now starting to use immunotherapy which has been widely used for other cancers and we’re using it for the first time in breast cancer,” said Dr. Kasireddy

Denman says Guthrie’s around the clock approach helped put her mind at ease during the most difficult time in her life.

“I’ve just never seen people who cared so much and were so willing to give up their own personal time to help me. I think it made me feel like no matter what happened, they were there for me and I knew that all the way, that no matter what was going on, I could pick up the phone and call them and they would help me,” said Denman.

Doctors reminding women to stay on top of their breast health and to know their risk.

“I think it’s highly important to keep up with screening and detect breast cancer at an early stage because it’s curable when it’s detected and treated early,” said Dr. Kasireddy.

Denman considering herself one of the lucky ones.

“I always think everything in life happens for a reason and maybe it was to make me slow down and realize I need to take care of myself or I’m not going to be around for the people who love me and do the things I want to do,” said Denman.

Denman sharing her story in hopes of inspiring other women to put their health first.

“Please take the time for yourself, I always thought it would never happen to me and it did. I’m lucky that at the stage I was at, they could help me. But you don’t want to wait too long and then regret it later down the road,” said Denman. “Please just take the time to really take care of yourself so you can be there for the people you love and all those wonderful experiences with your family and friends down the road.”

This story comes to you as paid content from Guthrie Hospital.

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