In October of 2014, Sandy Armstrong had her annual mammogram. The next day, she got a call asking her to go to Columbus for another mammogram at the Stefanie Spielman Breast Center in Columbus. After this mammogram, she had an ultrasound and, ultimately, a biopsy.
On Nov. 5, she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast. Of her cancer diagnosis, Armstrong said, “Whenever you hear that word, it’s scary.”
Months of doctor’s visits, surgery and radiation treatment followed this diagnosis. After her surgery, Armstrong, of Washington C.H. traveled to Columbus every day for six weeks for radiation. She said something that helped her during this difficult time was that she “had a lot of support.”
This included her friends, niece and sister who took turns accompanying her to Columbus each day, and her coworkers at the health department who covered for her during the afternoons when she went to treatment. Armstrong also said, “I had a lot of people praying for me, a lot of people that I got letters and notes from that I didn’t even know had had breast cancer.” She said these notes helped her to feel less alone.
Armstrong stressed the importance of annual mammograms like the one that alerted her of her own cancer. Armstrong said she had no family history of breast cancer, which further illuminates that point that mammograms are important for every woman.
For those who may be facing a similar diagnosis, Armstrong advised them to be sure to “ask questions” and to find a doctor they are happy with.
Breast cancer will affect about one in eight women during their lifetimes, making it the most common invasive cancer in women. Early diagnosis is important in preventing the cancer from metastasizing and spreading from the breasts to the rest of the body. Early signs of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, dimpling of the skin, a change in breast shape, fluid coming from or inversion of the nipple, and a patch of red and scaly skin. Mammograms can detect breast cancer while it is still in an early stage, which can improve outcomes for patients.
Free mammograms are available at Fayette County Memorial Hospital for individuals who live in Fayette County, do not have insurance, and fall under financial guidelines. To schedule, call 740-333-2743.
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2