BUCKHANNON — The speaker at Monday’s Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony urged others to regularly do self-breast exams.
In Vicki Mathess’ case, her self exam – done in between her yearly mammograms – led to her diagnosis of stage two breast cancer.
“I had a mammogram two months before and the mammogram was negative,” she said. “In two months, through a self exam, I discovered a lump.”
But Mathess said her mammogram was not wrong – the cancer developed quickly and progressed to stage two by the time Mathess was diagnosed through another mammogram.
Mathess underwent a right mastectomy and chemotherapy and has been in remission for several years.
She also encouraged those present to know the newest treatments that are available and to do their research.
Mathess said she was able to go through cancer journey through support from her family and church members and her faith in God.
“I’m very fortunate,” she said.
During Monday’s ceremony at Stockert Youth Center, hosted by the Upshur County CEOS, Mathess and other breast cancer survivors were presented with a pink rose from the Fred Brooks Garden Club.
Pink is the color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – held annually in October — and Monday, Oct. 2 was also Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
Dr. Peter Power, with the Center for Women’s Health at St. Joseph’s Hospital, told those gathered that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among U.S. women.
“It’s very important that it be caught early through screenings and mammograms starting around age 40-49,” he said.
Clinical breast exams are recommended every one to three years for women ages 25-40 with mammograms recommended starting around age 40-49 every year or every other year.
“Both the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend mammograms annually (starting at age 40) and you can have that discussion with your doctor,” he said.
Wreaths were presented to area health care providers, City of Buckhannon and Upshur County Commission to display throughout October. At the end of the ceremony, pink and white balloons were released.