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WI Cancer Survivor: A Mammogram Saved My Life

PHOTO: Friday, Oct. 17, is National Mammography Day. The American Cancer Society says early detection is critical in successfully treating breast cancer. Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society.
PHOTO: Friday, Oct. 17, is National Mammography Day. The American Cancer Society says early detection is critical in successfully treating breast cancer. Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society.
October 17, 2014

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - October 17 is recognized as National Mammography Day by the American Cancer Society, and it's a day cancer survivor Jennifer Ott of Milwaukee wants women to take action.

"I was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer at the age of 40, two months after my 40 birthday and while I was in the process of raising and breastfeeding my nine-month-old son," says Ott.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in Wisconsin. This year, it's estimated more than 4,300 Wisconsin women will be diagnosed with the disease, and it will claim the lives of 700. Ott says those women who say they won't get breast cancer because they don't have a family history or any of the risk factors should think again.

"Coming from a woman who had a one-percent chance of getting breast cancer and still got it, avoiding a mammogram is like expecting to win the lottery and not buying a ticket," she says. "If you don't want to get cancer, avoiding a mammogram is not going to keep you from getting it but it can help you survive it."

Right now, breast cancer cannot be prevented, which is why the American Cancer Society says regular mammograms are important because the disease is most treatable in its early stages. For more information, women can join the Kohl's Breast Health for Women community online, and set up screening reminders.

Ott has advice for women who might think a mammogram is uncomfortable.

"For any woman who has any fear or reservation about mammograms because they may be perceived as painful or uncomfortable, it is significantly less comfortable to have cancer than it is to get a mammogram," she says.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Ott says "I don't have time" is a flimsy excuse.

"If you have time to walk the dog, if you have time to work out, if you have time to read that book, watch your favorite television program, you have time for a mammogram," says Ott. "A mammogram is less time-consuming than cancer treatment. It could save your life."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI