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Brunswick Beacon Advertising Director Angie Sutton never imagined she, at age 37, would be diagnosed with breast cancer.
The active mother and businesswoman didn’t have any “first-degree” relatives who suffered from the disease, and because she was younger than 40, she wasn’t in the age group suggested to receive annual mammograms.
But when a pain flared up in her breast area and wouldn’t go away, Sutton knew she couldn’t ignore it. Eventually, it was discovered she had breast cancer. She was lucky, she believes, because it was caught early. At Stage 0, Sutton has excellent chances of beating cancer.
For many women, however, changes in their breasts can often go unnoticed. That’s why Sutton wanted to share her story. She wanted to remind all women how important it is for those younger than 40 to do regular self-breast exams and follow up annually with a physician’s screening. And for those 40 and older, and those who have a family history of the disease, it’s important to get annual mammograms.
In November, Boiling Spring Lakes resident Sherry Anderson shared a similar story with The Beacon. She too discovered a small lump in her breast. Because of a family history of breast cancer, Anderson decided to have a double mastectomy to increase her odds of living cancer-free.
“I want to tell other women to get out there and get checked,” she said.
Stories like Sutton’s and Anderson’s are among many, many in Brunswick County and across the world. Their courage and messages serve as reminders for women to put themselves first, put their fears behind them and seek out appropriate medical care.
“It only hurts for about 10 seconds. It’s better to hurt for 10 seconds than to hurt for a lifetime or to lose your life,” Mary Earp, founding member of Brunswick Pink Angels and a breast cancer survivor, said of getting a mammogram.
And what if a woman doesn’t have insurance or can’t afford medical care? There is plenty of help in Brunswick County.
The Brunswick County Health Department participates in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program. If diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the program, qualifying women can get the gamut of treatment for free.
Brunswick Community Hospital and its Novant medical partners also offer assistance from charity care, to reduced rates and payment options.
For more information about the health department’s program, call 253-2250.
For more information about Brunswick Community Hospital’s financial assistance programs, call one of the following financial counselors—for last names that begin with A-L, call 755-1334; for last names that begin with M-Z, call 755-1320.
Don’t put off doing a self-screening or having an annual exam. Remember, your life may depend on it. What could be more important than that?