Making time for your annual mammogram

ConsumerEdDM Flight2 2012 Sherrie-LgVert

Sherrie awoke one day in May 2010 with an achy upper arm. It didn’t surprise her as she’d been overly active the day before—she assumed she just pulled a muscle. But the pain didn’t subside, and a few days later when Sherrie’s partner gave her a hug, she winced in pain—now her breast hurt, too. It was then that Sherrie found the lump.

Sherrie had annual mammograms since she was 39-years-old and also did regular self-breast exams, but for no specific reason, she stopped doing so about three years prior to finding the lump in her breast. “I just fell out of the routine,” Sherrie says. “It wasn’t a conscience choice. And because I wasn’t checking my breasts, I had no idea how long the lump had been there.”

Even after finding the lump in her breast, Sherrie convinced herself that it couldn’t be cancer. “I thought for sure I had some type of infection,” Sherrie recalls. “It really looked like a feverish sore.” Her doctor in Mankato agreed and put Sherri on antibiotics. But when the medicine didn’t work, the doctor ordered a fine-needle aspiration from Sherrie’s breast. The test found that Sherri had inflammatory breast cancer, and her doctor recommended she have a mastectomy as soon as possible.

Sherrie decided to get a second opinion from a specialized health care institution. She’d gone to University of Minnesota Medical Center with previous medical problems and been pleased with the care she received. So she called the Breast Center there and got an appointment immediately, where oncologist Dr. Anne Blaes became her physician.

“Dr. Blaes was very open and honest about my treatment,” Sherrie says. “At the same time, she was one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met.” Dr. Blaes immediately started Sherrie on an aggressive type of chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy designed to shrink the tumor before surgery to keep it from spreading. Eventually, in December, Sherrie had a mastectomy to completely remove it.

Today, Sherri is cancer free. “I feel great and know that my experience fighting breast cancer has changed my life. I truly feel that the doctors at the Masonic Cancer Clinic are my angels.”

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