The month of October has special significance for Judy Jackson, director of Development at Gordon Hospital. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Jackson can remember when October was known only for Halloween rather than Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In 1988, Jackson was given a mammogram, among other medical tests, after discovering that a vein in her neck was swollen. “When I was diagnosed, not that long ago, nobody talked about breast cancer – it was a hush-hush thing,” says Jackson. She had a mastectomy to remove the cancerous tissue, and in 2004, Jackson had a lumpectomy to remove cancer that had developed in the other breast.
Since her first diagnosis, she has noticed that it is more common and accepted to discuss breast cancer, the disease that affects one in eight women. Back then, she had to go all the way to Atlanta just to find a support group. “Now there are a lot of support groups right here in this area. The atmosphere is so much better. The emphasis on awareness and early detection like buddy check campaigns and the promotion of self-exams is essential in fighting this disease.”
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps remind women to get their mammograms every year,” says Courtney Perez, MD, Radiologist at Gordon Hospital. “One mammogram isn’t enough. Annual mammograms really save lives.”
As a survivor, Jackson decided that if she could help just one person with breast cancer, it would be worth it. Today, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program and has convinced many women she knows to get mammograms. “If you feel something, don’t ignore it,” she says. Two of the women whom she has encouraged to get tested have had cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman dying from breast cancer is 1 in 33. Dr. Perez says the cure rate is 98 percent if the cancer is caught at an early enough stage and size.
“Early diagnosis can make all the difference,” Dr. Perez says. “Go out and tell your friends to have a mammogram; it’s like getting your teeth cleaned. You have to do it every year.”
Jackson agrees. “You know your body better than anyone else, so it’s important that you listen to it,” stresses Jackson. “Don’t take your health for granted, take it into your own hands.”
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gordon Hospital is offering a free “Dinner with the Doctors” seminar on Thursday, October 18 at 6:00 p.m. in Conference Room E. Seating is limited and participants must make reservations to attend. Please call (706) 879-4732 and select option 3 to register.
If you would like to schedule a screening mammogram (that means that you’ve never had any abnormalities in previous mammograms) at Gordon Hospital, you can do that by calling 706.879.4741.