Source: The News-Enterprise
Susie Byrd came to her chemotherapy treatments ready to fight the cancer that invaded her breasts. Nearing 50, she always had been diligent about annual mammograms, particularly since her sister lived through a breast cancer diagnosis around the same age.
It was during that visit in November 2014 that the doctors would eventually find the beginnings of cancer, and it wouldn’t be until two days before Christmas that Byrd would find out.
Byrd then met Dr. Adam Lye of Hardin Memorial Health’s Cancer Care Center, who would tell her to be positive.
“He said a lot of things, but I heard him say this type was deadly and aggressive and ugly and everything else was (a blur),” she said. “But then I also heard him say one of the keys is to be positive.”
A quick online search would bring back countless options, but Byrd settled on a pair of pink boxing gloves to bring to her treatments and show her doctors she was ready to stay positive and fight the disease.
“I was at work one day and thinking about it, and I’m a fighter by nature, but this is kind of difficult,” Byrd said. “They were my symbol to fight and not give up. I brought them to maybe my second or third treatment and when Dr. Lye saw them, he just smiled, and I think he realized then that I was serious.”
Byrd’s case is somewhat atypical, Lye said, as her cancer was eradicated through chemotherapy before she had surgery.
Byrd finished her last treatment in July 2015, and retired those gloves to Lye’s office.
Lye said it’s a point of contention in the medical world about when women are recommended to start getting regular mammograms, but it generally lingers between 40 and 50.
In Byrd’s case, she had done the right thing and started having mammograms in her 20s. Lye said with a family history of breast cancer, it’s important to start earlier than others.
“I see some early, but, unfortunately, I see some late that either didn’t think anything was wrong or just waited too long,” Lye said. “Then I see some patients that come in with very little going on in the breast itself but it’s spread, so I see a mix of everything.”
Early detection is key in fighting the disease with as much effectiveness as Byrd was able to, and yearly mammograms are an important part of that, Lye said.
But, if you ask Byrd, those gloves also had a little something to do with it.
“It helped a lot because all of my doctors were positive as well and educating me on what I was doing but being very upfront about it. I’m looking at my husband and I’m hearing him but I’m like, ‘Am I going to die?’” she said.
“It’s important to be positive and it was hard, because those treatments, well there were some rough nights. Even at home I would cry, but I would put my gloves on.”
Friday is National Mammography Day, when women are encouraged to do their part in breast cancer prevention by getting their annual check.
Last fiscal year, HMH performed just over 17,000 mammograms across three of its locations.