SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In 2011, Terri Lank lost her life to breast cancer. 

She was an advocate for breast health after first being diagnosed in October of 2000. Then in 2006, she faced her second battle with the disease.

Terri was Keith’s wife and the proud mother of Jacob and Lizzie.  

“It was like a constant battle that she had to go through,” Lizzie said. “My brother and I weren’t even supposed to be born. So we were kind of like miracles.”

The children were ages 7 and 5 when their mom died.

Fast forward to 2023, Jacob is now a successful college student, and his little sister Lizzie has reached another milestone. She just celebrated her high school graduation at St. Andrew’s School.

“I wore a necklace with her ashes in it to walk across the stage for her to be with me. So it was just really important to have a part of her with me,” Lizzie said.

Over the years, Team Terri has kept her memory alive by fundraising for Susan G. Komen. 

In 2018, Buddy Check 3 invited Lizzie to speak to teens at our CUPcakes & Conversation

“It’s so important to get ahead of everything, to know at a young age, so as you grow older, you are aware of all these different resources that you have like getting mammograms and self-breast exams,” she said, adding, “The Buddy Check, it’s just a great way to check up on any of your friends.”

“And so I think at a young age, it’s just really important to know all of these steps and precautions that you can take,” she continued. 

Lizzie said she’s met with a doctor about her own breast health.

“She showed me how to do a self-breast exam and everything, so now as I get older, I know how to do it,” she said. “It’s just really important because you never know.”

Lizzie will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall. 

While she is still undecided about her major, she knows her decision will be connected to finding ways to keep women mentally and physically healthy. 

“I was talking about being a child psychologist or going into pre-med and then doing pediatrics,” Lizzie explained. “But then, I was also talking about going into oncology because of like my story and my mother and how much I know, but I can learn more.” 

As Lizzie prepares to transition to the next part of her journey, she says she’ll continue the good work begun by her mother and tell the story of a courageous woman who lived life to the fullest, even when she knew cancer may ultimately take her life.

For now, the memories are what fuels Lizzie’s passion to keep her mother’s dream alive and for that, she is thankful.

Breast self-exam

Experts say one in one million teens will get breast cancer, and today, more women in their 20s and 30s are being diagnosed with the disease.

One way for women of all ages to pay attention to their breast health is through monthly self-exams.

Jordan Dixon, director of breast imaging at the Telfair Women’s Pavilion, says consistency is the most important thing.

“The purpose of breast exams is to find cancers small and early,” she explained. “So we recommend starting, just practicing in your late teens or early 20s so that women can get familiar with how their breasts feel and change over time.”

Dixon says optimally, you would do it about seven days after your menstrual period.

Then, be thorough.

Examine from the collarbone down to the abdomen and from the armpit to the cleavage area.

Choose your pattern.

“Some women like to do up and down stripes from top to bottom. Some women like to do it in a clock-type pattern,” Dixon explained. “So they start at 12 o’clock and they move around as a clock position would.”

Dixon says if you forget to do your breast self-exam, simply do it when you think of it next.

WSAV News 3 is On Your Side with Buddy Check 3 every third of the month to remind you and your buddies to complete your breast self-exams.

Click or tap here to learn more about the program.

If you have any questions or concerns about breast health, call the SJ/C Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion at 912-819-7053.