Think Pink Lady’s Advice: Take Advantage of Early Detection
SIOUX FALLS (Oct. 1, 2013) - Typically, Patty Larson of Sioux Falls would not put much stock into psychics. But a message her daughter received caused her to think twice – and schedule a screening mammogram.
In the summer of 2010, Patty was showing horses at a county fair with her daughter. Her daughter thought it would be fun to stop by a psychic’s booth. The psychic said many things – some things that never came to pass and some that were a good guess. Yet Patty’s daughter was also told to warn her mother to see a doctor about a life-threatening condition.
“It had been over a year since my last mammogram, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to get checked out,” Patty said. She remembers laughing with the radiologist about the psychic’s advice. But when a biopsy was recommended, “it wasn’t funny anymore.”
Patty believes God used the cryptic message to get her attention – before her breast cancer could advance any further. Thankfully, Patty’s cancer was diagnosed at a stage 0. She had breast surgery with reconstruction, and needed no further radiation or chemotherapy.
“I think we’re blessed to have the technology we have,” Patty says. “Digital mammography is finding breast cancer earlier, in younger women. The advantages of early detection are huge. It can save your life.”
Had Patty waited until she felt a lump, her cancer would have been diagnosed at a later stage. Yet she realizes that cancer at any stage is a serious diagnosis. Patty remembers the day she went to her doctor’s office to receive the results of her biopsy. “I knew that once I crossed into her office, my life would never be the same. I knew I was in Jesus’ hands, and that he would walk me through it.”
Patty is an Avera “Pink Lady,” serving as an advocate for breast cancer awareness. At first, she didn’t feel she deserved to have this title. “I didn’t get sick and I didn’t lose my hair.” Yet Patty came to realize that she was living proof of the value of early detection.
During October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she encourages all women age 40 and older to get their annual mammogram. Being a clinic manager, Patty understands that some women are fearful of the procedure and put it off. “Too many of us think it’s not going to happen to me. So your breast gets smashed for a few seconds – it’s worth it to save your life.”
On average, mammography detects 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms. Thanks to early detection, five-year survival rates of breast cancer have climbed from 63 percent in the 1960s to over 90 percent today. If breast cancer is detected while it is still localized, five-year survival is currently 99 percent.
Patty wears a pink bracelet as a reminder of her own experience, and the importance of early detection. While it doesn’t define her, being a cancer survivor has changed Patty’s outlook on life. A coffee mug in her office says it all – “I didn’t survive cancer to die of stress.”
She’s taking more time to enjoy the journey – which still includes a few county fairs each summer. Not so much to visit psychics, but to show animals with her kids.
Learn more at www.AveraCancer.org