One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. Right now there is no guaranteed way to prevent it, but there are steps every woman can take to lower the risk.
The Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls has Think Pink Thursday every 3rd Thursday of the month. They just want you to think body awareness, self-breast exam and make a mammogram appointment if needed.
Darla Jacobson had a trying 2006 to say the least. At the age of 32, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, had a bi-lateral mastectomy, underwent 8 rounds of chemo therapy over 16 weeks and then radiation treatment. Finally she finished out the year with reconstructive surgery and permanent breast implants in December. She couldn't wait until 2007.
Darla, now 33, says, "The doctors were great. They gave me so many options but said it's your choice Darla. For me being so young with a daughter so young I just decided that in 2 years I don't want a re-occurrence so for me the right decision was to do a bi-lateral."
Darla is one of the think pink ladies. You've probably seen this poster or maybe you know one of them, maybe even several of them and had no idea they had breast cancer. They put a face on breast cancer, and for Darla, it also meant using her experience to get the word out.
Darla says, "Be aware of your body and if you do find something don't blow it off. It could be anything so get it checked out it's not that big of deal."
Doctors removed a large lump in her breast that was close to her chest wall and during surgery they found another cancerous growth. Darla said had she not decided to do the double mastectomy doctors say they probably wouldn't have found the second lump. She was lucky she didn't have cancer in her lymph nodes.
As Darla smiles her big beautiful room brightening smile she says, " I have a clean bill of heath. I'm down to check-ups every 6 months. I am aware of my body and if there any signs I call the doctor. I stayed positive and have a great support system, my family, friends and co-workers. I'm doing great."
Women should get mammograms yearly starting at the age of 40. If you have family history... sooner. Darla did not have any family history of breast cancer.
Questions call 877-at-AVERA or go to www.averamckennan.org and click on Think Pink.