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Mother and daughter face and survive cancer together

By Lacy Hilliard
Rosemary Mowery and her daughter, Stephanie Wills, are survivors. Their battle with cancer began in 2007 when at the age of 37, Stephanie was diagnosed with DCIS –an early form of breast cancer. Just a year later, Rosemary would be diagnosed with IDC Stage II –an invasive form of breast cancer.
When Stephanie’s doctor walked into her office and shook her head in regards to the results of her diagnostic biopsy, Stephanie and her husband knew that their lives were about to change. Nobody could have foreseen that just a year later, Stephanie’s mother; Rosemary would also receive a breast cancer diagnosis. Though the diagnosis was a shock, Rosemary took comfort in the knowledge she had gained while helping her daughter through the cancer process and armed with this knowledge, she readied herself for the fight of her life.
Both Stephanie and Rosemary are adamant about the importance of early detection. They know that because they listened to their bodies, they were able to receive the early diagnosis that most likely saved their lives. The women say it is important to remember that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to find a lump to be at risk for breast cancer. Breast hotspots, changes in skin on or around the breast, dimpling, nipple discharge, and breast pain are all symptoms that should be immediately reported to a physician. Stephanie and Rosemary caution against the dangers of the “ostrich syndrome.” The women say that many would-be patients ignore the early warning signs. For some, fear of the unknown prevents them from obtaining a diagnosis; for others, it is their financial status that comes into play. Johnson County residents are fortunate to have access to the Breast and Cervical Screening Program offered through the Johnson County Health Department. The program will provide free screening diagnostics for any patients that financially qualify and if the patient is diagnosed, the program will help the patient obtain temporary medical insurance (free of charge) to see them through their treatments. It is important to note that the earlier cancer is detected, the better the survival rate. Both women stress that just because you don’t have a family history of cancer, doesn’t mean you can’t get it. Stephanie and Rosemary had no prior family history of breast cancer and after diagnosis, both received gene testing that proved genetics did not play a role.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, keep in mind that patient to doctor ratio shows just how overwhelmed today’s medical practitioners are and becoming your own advocate and taking an active role in treatment decisions is essential. Becoming educated about what you’re facing is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best care possible. Both Stephanie and Rosemary rave about “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.” The women used the book as a comprehensive guide throughout treatment decisions and choosing doctors and would recommend it not only to cancer patients but to any woman.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's story.