MUNCIE, Ind. — As a breast cancer survivor, Danielle Ruddick is quick to urge other women to get their routine mammograms in a timely manner — no procrastinating or thinking “It won’t be me.”

This, despite the fact that — to some extent, at least — she owes her own early breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent recovery to running late for a mammogram.

The Muncie native and Southside High School graduate had been good about getting an annual mammogram for years, even though “You never think it’s going to be you anyway,” she said recently. In 2012, however, her mammogram was due in October, but she delayed it while dealing with her mother’s’ health problems, “and I just kept putting it off.”

Finally in March 2013, Ruddick made a belated appointment at the Imaging Center. This time, the image from the mammogram prompted an ultrasound to check a small spot detected in one breast. Upon being told they needed to take a biopsy, “I just broke out in a cold sweat,” Ruddick recalled.

Even so, the sense of disbelief that it would really be cancer lingered, so it was a shock to get the call at work a few days later, confirming the biopsy result as cancerous.

Within a week, Ruddick was in surgery for a partial mastectomy, then back in surgery a week later after lab work showed not a clear enough margin the first time. About a month after that, she began radiation treatments. She’s thankful now that she was able to avoid chemotherapy and all that goes with it; she was able to keep working her job at the time in medical education at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital throughout her radiation therapy, just suffering some fatigue but with great support from her husband, Bob, her three children and her boss.

Noting that her cancer was Stage 0 when it was found, Ruddick now emphasizes how important mammograms are to find cancer that early. Despite the fact she does the recommended self-checks, “That mammogram found something I didn’t feel,” she noted.

Ironically, the fact that she had her mammogram months later than usual might have been a factor in catching the cancer at such an early stage. Had she gone in October 2012 instead of March 2013, she now wonders if the cancer might not have been found until it was further along.

Without any way of knowing when would be the best time to find it, however, Ruddick is quick to advocate women getting regular mammograms as scheduled. Noting that she didn’t have any family history of breast cancer and had 15 years of good exam results, she said her two daughters both get checked regularly now. “It doesn’t discriminate, that’s for sure,” Ruddick said.

“My point is, I want people to know I didn’t feel it; the surgeon didn’t feel it; the mammogram found it,” she added.


Source: The (Muncie) Star Press


Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by The (Muncie) Star Press.