BERNIE, MO (KFVS) - One breast cancer survivor says it's important to be your own health advocate.
Monica Edmonds is a wife and mother of three. She also has a long family history of breast cancer. So she fought insurance companies and doctors to start her mammograms early.
At age 35 her screening came back normal. Six months later, she noticed her breast would sink in when she raised her arms: a sign of breast cancer. At that point she tested positive for stage 2.
"When I went back and got the mammogram report, it was actually there," said Edmonds.
She said the cancer had just gotten overlooked in the mammogram report.
"From that point on I became a big advocate of every woman getting a copy of her report," said Edmonds.
Edmonds had a mastectomy and chemotherapy.
Then just 18 months later, her back started hurting. Her doctor said it wasn't a big deal, but she felt differently.
She switched doctors and got a bone test, and sure enough the cancer had gotten worse. The cancer was now in her bones and was now stage 4.
Despite the negative prognosis, she holds a positive outlook.
"I live like I don't have any cancer," said Edmonds.
She is still planning vacations and lives each day to the fullest.
"Don't let cancer define you, don't let it become who you are," said Edmonds.
She feels blessed that she has helped others recognize the importance of getting checked, and being your own health advocate.
Edmonds also says her support team is vital. She said it's really helpful to bring family and friends to doctors appointments, so they too can ask questions.