Wamego breast cancer survivor talks about importance of mammograms

Health Check

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, according to Gena Trask, women’s health clinical navigator for the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka.

Although it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, Trask said, not receiving yearly mammograms can increase the risk.

Due to one mammogram, Rebecca Arthington’s life was saved.

“I was 60 years old, so I’m, like, over the moon,” Arthington said when talking about herself three years ago.

The Wamego resident is the definition of a strong woman: always smiling, determined, full of energy and a veteran after serving 21 years with the Army.

She kept this same attitude, even when she found out something that completely changed her life, that she had triple-negative breast cancer, the second most rare form of cancer, according to Arthington.

“Dang it. On the other hand I’m like ‘Not a death sentence. Many, many people survive,'” Arthington said. “My initial thought was ‘Why now? Why when I’m suppose to be traveling, when I’m suppose to be on cruises, when I’m suppose to be enjoying grandchildren. Why now?'”

After 33 weeks where she underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy through the VA medical center in Topeka, Arthington can happily say she is a survivor.

“A couple of days ago I did another blood draw because they’re still tracking me, I guess that’s part of the program, but three years. So far, so good,” Arthington said on Friday.

It was all because of Arthington initially getting her annual mammogram three years ago that saved her life.

“Early detection is the key to survival,” Trask said. “Getting that mammogram puts you in the best possible position to get the treatment that is needed.”

Those twenty minutes spent getting the mammogram could potentially save your life.

“Time that you could have with your children, your grandchildren. With your husband, your wife,” Trask said. “We’re talking about your life.”

Just as it did for Arthington’s.

“Had I not done that mammogram, we might not be doing this interview,” Arthington said.

Any women 45 to 54 years old are encouraged to get yearly mammograms, Trask said, and anyone 55 and older every other year.

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