One Heartland woman wants young women to know breast cancer has no age limit and she's using her personal journey to raise awareness.
"Your first thoughts are...I'm 34 years old, right? This isn't happening," Marcie Barker said. "It was almost like a rat race. I had breast tenderness and so as a woman you know we play it off, whatever. And then it got to the point where it was swollen."
What doctors initially thought was a breast infection, turned out to be inflammatory breast cancer.
"My surgeon described it as the newest, latest, greatest cancer," Barker said. "So I guess if you're going to get it you want to newest, latest, greatest right? (laughing)."
Barker said being able to laugh in the face of the Ugly C is what kept her going.
She said she dreaded losing her hair the most.
"In the family pictures, you can see in them, they were taken the week that I shaved my head," Barker said. "I was starting to lose my hair really bad from the chemo. I was more scared of what Rider was going to think? You know what I mean? He's 3-years-old. We were at the lake when I did it and he was like oh my God mommy I love your new haircut. Mom guilt is real even when you're sick and you think you're dying."
Barker described her husband as her rock.
"When people get cancer, no one thinks about the spouse, right?" Barker said. "The spouse deals with it almost as much as the cancer patient does because they're there taking care of everything I couldn't, along with, at the end of the day he was probably one of the only people that saw me break down."
But Marcie is now on the other side.
As of this past October, her doctor's said she's in surveillance, meaning her doctors are keeping a close eye on her.
"When it happened, I felt like part of this was about raising awareness," Barker said. "Especially of girls or women my age that aren't old enough to have mammograms yet. You know, it's just you got to listen to your body because it just doesn't discriminate against age anymore and most insurance companies won't even cover a screening mammogram until 40."
Barker said doing breast self-exams are so important.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has some great information on performing a breast self-exam.
If you are holding off on getting a mammogram because of the cost, there are programs available, like Dig for life thought St. Francis Medical Center, which helps to provide valuable screens at no cost to people who otherwise couldn't afford them.
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