Longtime nurse pushes importance of yearly screenings after own breast cancer battle

Buddy Check 3

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As a nurse of 25 years at St. Joseph’s/Candler, Bernette Anchors has been taking care of others.

COVID-19 has kept her busy, working long hours, but she didn’t allow a pandemic to postpone her yearly mammogram back in October.

“I was giving flu shots on the 8th, and happened to vaccinate the mammogram tech,” Anchors recalled. “And I said, ‘Gee, I’ve been trying to get in. I couldn’t get in until the 21st.’ She said, ‘Oh, I have space today.’ So, I think somebody might have canceled.”

The early appointment was a blessing for the nurse.

“About 30 minutes later, she notified me that the radiologist felt that it was suspicious,” Anchors said.

A second mammogram and a biopsy revealed stage 0 breast cancer — the earliest stage you can detect the disease.

“All of this came as a total shock to me,” she said. “I have no family history of breast cancer. I have never missed a screening.”

The unexpected news pressed Anchors to sound the alarm.

“That is why I wanted to speak with you because I’m very concerned with people not getting annual screenings,” she said.

“I was told by my breast surgeon that if I had waited 6 months, it is quite possible that would have been invasive,” Anchors continued, “and we would have been looking at a very different prognosis and treatment plan.”

Cancer took her left breast, but it didn’t take her spirit. When you see her at St. Joseph’s/Candler, she’ll still be doing what she loves and providing women with a talk that could save their lives.

“You know it really sharpens your priorities, and I want other women to know don’t wait,” Anchors said. “You’re not gonna get COVID from coming into the hospital. Precautions are in place.

“You can be like me and have something caught very, very early and be fine.”

Anchors is cancer-free. She said she’s looking forward to getting a 3D tattoo on the breast where she had the mastectomy.

Stay on top of your breast health with the Buddy Check 3 program. Learn more by visiting our page here or calling St. Joseph’s/Candler at 912-819-5704.

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