PINK UP: Breast cancer isn't always life changing

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Doctors at Saint Francis Medical Center encourage all women to regularly get checked for breast cancer.

Statistics show mammograms are the best defense against the disease.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of mammograms. They help detect cancer in an earlier stage when it is curable," Dr. Olivia Aranha, an oncologist with Saint Francis Medical Center said.

Rebecca Volkerding, a breast cancer survivor, is living proof of just that.

She was adamant about getting checked.

"I was extremely careful from the time before I was 40 because I saw two aunts and my grandmother on my father's side die from cancer, two of them with breast cancer, and it wasn't pretty," Volkerding said.

However, in 2003 Volkerding got the call.

"The nurse form the doctors office called and said there is something there," Volkerding said.

She was diagnosed with a very early form of stage 0 breast cancer.

Volkerding said it caught her off guard.

"In one year look what happened," Volkerding said. "The year before I was fine. Within a year it had spread it had spread throughout the breast."

Volkerding considers herself to be one of the lucky ones, though.

Because she got checked regularly, the cancer was found so early all she needed was surgery.

These are the types of cases doctors hope for.

"It doesn't become your life. It's done, taken care of," Aranha said. "You move on and live your life."

There is no denying surviving breast cancer is a jolting experience, but Volkerding said it isn't one that defines her.

"The next week I went dancing. I said I am going to live," Volkerding said. "And this last year, I painted my mailbox red because I said I am alive and I am going to treasure every moment."

Volkerding said she had no lump, bump or anything, and without a mammogram there's no telling what could've happened. That's why doctors at Saint Francis Medical Center say early detection is key to saving lives.

The good thing is that upgraded technology makes mammograms more comfortable and programs offered at Saint Francis like Dig for life can help provide screenings at little to no cost.

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