Breast cancer doesn’t care who you are

Published 3:08 pm Thursday, October 26, 2023

Each year during the month of October, Americans recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to educate citizens and emphasize the importance of early detection and access to timely and high quality care.

Laura Gresham, a Lowndesboro resident who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in April 2008, shared her devastating experience with the disease.

“I had to have a mastectomy and I took eight rounds of chemo and 33 rounds of radiation,” Gresham said. “It’s a nightmare. Every treatment had a different side effect, and some of the side effects I experienced were non-reversible so I still have them today.”

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Gresham said though breast cancer wreaked havoc on her physical body, it took a toll in other areas as well.

“It changed my whole life,” Gresham said. “I‘ll never be the same person that I once was. Your whole body, mind, and soul changes. You don’t even think the same. But, once you beat it you get a new beginning in life.”

According to the American Cancer Society breast cancer accounts for about 30% of all new female cancers each year, making it the second most common cancer in the United States aside from skin cancers.

Gresham has been in remission for over 15 years and stressed the importance of early detection.

“Make sure you go to your annuals and never miss them,” Gresham said. “I never missed an annual [cancer screening]. I found my knot about 6 months before it was time for my next mammogram and I had to wait about 6 months until my next annual because my insurance wouldn’t pay for another scan before then.”

Gresham stressed that no one is truly safe from breast cancer and urged both women and men of all ages to be vigilant about being screened for this life altering disease.

“Cancer does not care if you’re young, old, blind, crippled, or crazy and it doesn’t care who you are,” Gresham said. “I lost my niece Keirra King months ago to breast cancer; she was only 30.” Gresham noted that men can also get breast cancer, so they need screenings as well. 

“The American Cancer Society says one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer and I was that one out of eight even though I had no prior family history of it,” Gresham said.

The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Only lung cancer kills more women each year, and according to the society’s website, the chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 (about 2.5%). Early detection and high-quality care are the most important strategies for preventing deaths from breast cancer. 

For more information about breast cancer risks, prevention, detection, and treatment, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.org.