One out of every 8 American women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Doctors say early detection and action can make all the difference.
For the past 17 years Karen Klinkner has gotten an annual mammogram at Avera Queen of Peace.
"Just like every other year I went in a scheduled my annual mammogram, expecting it to be a mammogram that's normal." Said Klinkner.
But what Radiologist Carey Buhler found, stood out from the previous mammograms
"One little nodule here encircled and another strand area back here which appear to be completely new findings from the prior." Said Dr. Buhler.
So Dr. Buhler called for further tests, their results were definitive and sobering for Karen.
"The only thing I heard was early stage breast cancer and why me, I eat healthy, I exercise, why me?" Said Klinkner.
In less than one year, cancer had formed.
Karen never felt the lump in her breast because it was about the size of a tic-tac, in order for her to have physically felt the lump Dr. Buhler says it would have had to be about the size of a peanut M&M.
"The smallest you can feel generally in the most optimal position in the breast would be about a centimeter generally which would be 4 times this big." Said Dr. Buhler.
All cancers are different, but it's not uncommon for a lump to grow as quickly as Karen's did, making annual mammograms a must for women over 40.
"I was fortunate that mine was discovered on the mammogram and that it had not progressed further." Said Klinkner.
Since Karen's diagnosis, she had a lumpectomy. Even though the cancer did not spread, she is starting radiation to help limit the chance of the cancer reoccurring.
Karen says she knows it's an uncomfortable topic, but women should not make excuses, especially when it comes to their health.
"I definitely think women are afraid of the diagnosis and out of sight out of mind, and I don't want to have my boob squeezed! But it's not that bad, if a little squeeze finds that lump you can take care of it." Said Klinkner.
To help limit some of those excuses, Avera Queen of Peace offers free screenings at least once a year. This service began in 2003 and every year since has filled every seat, helping dozens of women just like Karen.
"We have been able to detect 5 breast cancers at an early stage and have had over 50 women that had to have additional views and investigations." Said Charlene Berke, director of the Avera Queen of Peace Cancer Center.
Breast Cancer does not have to be as scary as you may first think, but knowledge is power and once that diagnosis is made you can take those first steps toward recovery.
"Early detection is critical in getting a cure in breast cancer and the earliest you can find it the better." Said Dr. Buhler.
"Annual, annual, annual! If you haven't done annual mammograms in the past I can't emphasize it more, start them now! I feel that saved my life." Said Klinkner.
The free breast health screening will take place at Avera Queen of Peace Physician's Plaza on October 6th from 8am until 4pm. Pre-registration is required by Thursday October 4th and to register you can call 995-2473.
For more information, you can call 877-AT-AVERA.