BILLINGS – Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women in the United States.
As years have gone by, more research is being done, making outcomes for those diagnosed drastically different than they were in the past.
Cindy Bredy knows this first-hand.
“When I was in college, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and she was 38,” said Bredy. “She did all the right things, and about five years later she got another diagnosis. It had metastasized throughout her body, and my mom died of breast cancer at 48.”
Bredy describes the fear that those with a history of cancer in their families face, the constant question of “when will it happen to me?”
For the next 30 years, Bredy did everything right by doing her best to stay healthy, and going in every year for a mammogram.
Bredy continued to pass milestone after milestone in her life, free of the cancer that took her mother.
In August, Bredy went in for what was now just her ordinary, yearly exam, when doctors spotted a group of little calcifications in her breast. A biopsy showed she had DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ.
“DCIS is not technically cancer because it does not have invasive properties,” said Dr. Le Min Lee, an oncologist at Billings Clinic.
DCIS is considered a pre-cancerous condition, and differs from breast cancer because it does not have the potential to spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.
“I said ‘let’s take that out, let’s do a lumpectomy,’” said Bredy. “I don’t need those cells in my body, I don’t even want to give them a chance to go rogue.”
Due to some guidelines, Bredy and her surgeon made the decision to go back in a few weeks later and take out a little more.
“We took this little teeny tiny additional sliver, and there was a breast cancer tumor in there,” said Bredy. “Tiny. One and half millimeters…nothing that had shown up on the mammogram it was that small.”
The decision made all the difference, saving Bredy what could have been hours or years of worry had the cancer been given the chance to grow.
Bredy is now clear of cancer and is encouraging women to trust their gut and go in for their screenings.
“In my mom’s time if you got breast cancer, it was pretty much a death sentence,” said Bredy. “And now, there is so much good medicine, there is so much good therapy, there is so much good early detection – I am going to keep harping on that – that breast cancer isn’t a death sentence anymore.”