Jill’s grandmother had breast cancer in 1961 that reoccurred 30 years later and resulted in a radical mastectomy.
Knowing that, Jill made sure she had breast screenings every year. And each time she came to the center to get checked, she learned there was a reason for concern.
“Every time I went, they found something but it was always benign, or it was something small. It was a lumpectomy,” she says.
But getting checked had a price and Jill was uninsured and still paying off medical bills when she watched the NewsChannel 3 Taking Action Helpline and Chesapeake Regional Medical Center’s offer of free breast screenings.
Jill called the NewsChannel 3 Taking Action Helpline with a mission to get through.
“I just kept dialing and about an hour and 15 minutes later, all of a sudden, they picked up,” she says. “So I was able to get the appointment to come in and I’m really grateful that I did.”
Breast surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Repole, says some women think there will be discomfort during the mammogram, or choose to shield themselves from bad news. She urges women to put aside their fear to insure a better outcome.
“What I say is absence of diagnosis is not absence of disease. The earlier we can find this, the more likely you are for a complete cure, which is obviously our goal,” she says.
Jill will be coming to the Breast Center for her screening on October 19th. She wants other women to follow her lead.
“All you have to do is make a phone call to go and it’s peace of mind,” she says. “Knowing that there is some way of me going and getting it whether I have insurance or not is, it helps me and I hope by talking to you, it’s going to help someone else out there to know.”
Betsy Sturtsman also recommends calling the helpline. Her family shares a lot of love, joy and sadly, a family history of cancer.
“Sometimes you go along in life and there’s no family history and then all of a sudden, there’s family history,” she says.
Like a punching bag, her family got hit with news of cancer time and time again.
“My sister was diagnosed in 2002… and then my first aunt had two – she had breast cancer and then a reoccurance,” Betsy says.
But breast cancer wasn’t the only disease eating away at her family. Two other forms of the “Big C” took a terrible toll.
“My sister with pancreatic that came out of nowhere. But we knew that was serious and lost her within a year,” she says. “And then my mother’s ovarian came out of nowhere.”
Betsy lost them both.
Both she and her sisters are now determined that breast cancer will not win again. Her sister diagnosed in 2002 is a survivor.
“She’s 11 years out, doing great. But that experience, you are forever changed,” she says.
That’s why Betsy didn’t let anything stand in the way of her making a call to the Taking Action Helpline.
“My gynecologist said to watch the telethon and I called in. You finally get somebody and it’s so cool and yeah, it’s free,” Betsy says.
Now her goal is to make sure her children – especially a her daughter who is now a young woman – understand the importance of early detection.
“My daughter, my sons, they just need to be proactive and not be afraid to go to the doctor,” she says.
And she has a special message for those of you at home sitting on your hands.
“Just pick up the phone and do it. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.”