MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, highlighting the need for mammograms and early detection.
However, doctors say because of the pandemic fewer women are getting checked out. WBTW News spoke with a breast cancer survivor whose mammogram saved her life.
For Crystal Jones, breast cancer is no stranger to her and her family. Crystal lost her great grandmother, grandmother, and mother to breast cancer, while she and her sister are survivors.
“It was an uphill battle. We had our ups and downs for sure with it,” Jones said.
February 18 in 2017 was the day Jones learned she had been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. “The first reaction was we’re getting them both removed. We’re not going to play games, we’ll just regroup and get implants and move on with life,” she said.
Jones’ cancer was detected early through a mammogram and within 30 days she went in for her first surgery. In March of 2017, she made the decision to remove both breasts to prevent cancer from coming back.
“We had them both removed only because the chances were greater of it coming back to the other side. So I was like, we’re not [going to] play games. Let’s just remove them both,” said Jones. “Fourth-generation again, and I’m not [going to] play around because the other three before me have all passed away from it.”
Because of the early detection, Jones did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. And roughly one year later, on February 15 of 2018, Jones was cancer-free.
“It was wonderful just to know there was nothing left of it behind,” Jones said. “It definitely really taught me to appreciate life more, and to share my experience and my story with other women.”
An early detection in breast cancer isn’t always the case. According to the medical director at Tideland’s Breast Health Program, Dr. Craig Brackett, COVID led to a decline in women getting mammograms.
“They’re getting them a year later now instead of every other year. They’re getting their mammogram two years from the last issue, and with that, we’re finding more advanced cancers,” Brackett said. “That’s certainly a trend.”
He said Tidelands’ new 3D mammogram technology can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent. While mammograms typically start at the age of 40, he said there’s no age limit when it comes to getting one.