Local recommends mammograms for all

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By KATIE McDOWELL / Lifestyles Editor

Cindy Nicholson discovered she had breast cancer through a mammogram.

During a May 2011 mammogram, Nicholson’s doctor saw some “suspicious spots.” So, six months later, Nicholson, who is the director of human resources at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, returned for another mammogram.

Although Nicholson could not detect any lumps in her breast, her doctor said the “spots” had changed and ordered a biopsy.

It came back positive.

Nicholson shared her story with me last week because she wants to encourage women to be proactive about their health — and to never delay or skip mammograms.

“Just wearing pink or thinking pink doesn’t really help unless people take action,” she said.

I think she has a point. It’s been inspiring to see Shelby County businesses, schools and individuals show their support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month through fundraisers, “pink outs” and more.

However, women — and men — must be proactive about their health. That includes regular screenings and self-examinations.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure website offers these tips:

uKnow your family health history and talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer.

uGet screened.

uKnow what is normal for your breasts.

uMake healthy lifestyle choices.

Approximately 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in United States women in 2012, according to the website.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure also emphasizes the importance of mammograms.

“As the mammography screening rates have increased, more cases of breast cancer have been found at earlier stages, when they are most easily and successfully treated,” the website stated.

That certainly seems to be the case for Nicholson. Approximately one year after her diagnosis, she has completed a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery.

During our interview on Oct. 19, I thought she looked quite healthy. She had just debuted a very cute pixie cut, now that her hair has grown in after chemotherapy.

Dressed in a pink shirt with a pink scarf tied around her neck, she made an excellent representative for breast cancer survivors.

Katie McDowell is the lifestyles editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at katie.mcdowell@shelbycountyreporter.com.