TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Nina Storey was just 34 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After two diagnosis, a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy, she said early detection saved her life.
“My treatment was pretty aggressive. I feel like it really was important for me to find that early because the stage of cancer could’ve been worse which could’ve involved a lot more surgeries and things like that,” she said.
Medical experts at Terre Haute Regional Hospital said they’ve seen fewer patients come in for mammograms since the pandemic began.
“Patients are afraid and scared of going out and getting screenings done. However, if a patient has symptoms meaning if they a mass or breast pain, they shouldn’t delay any screening procedures. They should go and get it done right away,” Dr. Shailja Shah explained.
She said early detection and annual mammograms are key to treating breast cancer.
“We know that the earlier it’s detected, the higher the chances of it being cured. A person with stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer, the survival rate is about 99 percent in the first 5 years. The later stages have poorer outcomes.”
Storey and other breast cancer survivors have benefited from the advocacy of one woman named Coral Cochran.. with the Wabash Valley Breast Cancer Survivors Organization, who spent years lobbying in Washington D.C. For breast cancer awareness.
The group offers support and funding to women in need of getting their annual exams.
Storey said she’s proud of how far they’ve come but there’s still work to do.
“There have been tremendous moves forward in terms of treatments, decreasing the death rates, and extending survivorship. But we can’t let the off the gas pedal. We have to keep advocating and keep moving forward,” she noted.
Dr. Shah said those over the age of 45 should receive a mammogram annually and if you have a family history of breast cancer, you should consult your doctor to develop a prevention plan and genetic testing.