October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Munson Healthcare is offering a special mammography screening day. The idea is to stay proactive and increase awareness of getting screened. One breast cancer survivor says she's made it her to mission to encourage other women to stay ahead of cancer.
“Be aware of it and don’t think it can’t happen to you," says 66-year-old breast cancer survivor, Debi Weir.
You could say life is like a dance for Weir and she chooses to make the most of every step. She and her husband are avid ballroom dancers and raising seven kids surely kept them on their toes.
“All my life I had tried to stay healthy," says Weir
It wasn’t until a couple years ago in May 2016, Weir's life suddenly changed.
“I was thin most of my life but as I got older, 50’s, 60’s, I started adding weight to myself. I was trying really hard to lose that weight," says Weir.
After losing close to 50 pounds, Weird found a lump in her breast.
Further tests showed she needed a mammogram which would ultimately give her some insight.
"It showed something with irregular edges and needed to be checked further.My answer was positive which took me back. You just never see yourself connected with that "C" word next to you," says Weir.
With no family history of breast cancer, Weir was learning all she could about the disease she was faced with.
"For women, as you gain weight the more estrogen you have in the body. So, my cancer was invasive ductle carcinoma which was an estrogen dominant type of cancer," says Weir.
In an effort to help women stay ahead of breast cancer and make time to get screened, Munson Healthcare is offering a special program at several of its hospitals.
"We're looking at women 40 to 75 that haven't been screened in the last two years and offer screenings on October 20th and just make it more convenient," says Kathy LaRaia, executive director of oncology services for Munson Healthcare.
Several hospitals within the system are taking part, especially because northern Michigan has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the state.
"The incidence is higher than the rest of the state and we don't know why. So, we have resources here from Michigan state and have a grant we're looking into the causes," says LaRaia.
For Weir, her mammogram helped her catch the cancer early. The cancer didn't travel past her glands and she ended up going through surgery followed by radiation for five weeks. She's now at her two year mark with a healthy prognosis and a message for other women.
"It's really my mission to let other women know you have to be proactive, checking yourself and getting your mammogram," says Weir.
Along her mission she's continued to never miss a beat.
"I never stopped dancing. we danced all the way through, never took a day off," says Weir.
The Munson Healthcare Mammography Screening day is Saturday, October 20th and you do need a referral from a primary care physician.
For more information including the hospitals taking part and insurance questions click here.