CULLODEN, W.Va. (WSAZ) – At age 35, Monica Keiling did not expect to face stage 3 breast cancer.
“It’s probably been the worst part of it all, the wait is the worrying thing,” she said. “You know you probably have cancer, we do not know where it is, we do not know for sure, you just ask that it is not.”
On September 11, she noticed a lump. Within a few days she was to have a mammogram and her life changed forever. The young mother of two boys says it was a big shock for their whole family.
“I play every scenario in my head, where is it, where did it move to, how bad was it,” she said.
Women are encouraged to have a mammogram every year from the age of 40. St. Mary’s Breast Center says that if your mother or sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, you should start being screened 10 years before their diagnosis.
They estimate that about 50% of eligible women living in the tri-state area have not undergone breast cancer screening.
Many people are delaying getting it done because of the pandemic, and doctors across the country are concerned because they are seeing more cases of late stage appear in patients.
“We all need to take care of ourselves, especially women, because we are busy taking care of everyone else in the family,” said Anne Hammack, clinical coordinator. “It’s really important because it only takes a few minutes and you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone.”
Keiling admits she did not perform self-examinations on her breasts. She also has no family history of the disease.
Doctors performed genetic tests, which came back negative, leading her to believe it may be environmental.
Now she urges other women not to delay, become their own health advocate and act quickly as soon as they realize that something is not right.
“Luckily for me, I got my stuff going a lot faster with my second opinion,” she said. “I got chemo started within two weeks compared to what could have been two months.”
Keiling is going to Atlanta next week to get another round of chemotherapy treatments, which she says have been brutal and have had a lot of side effects.
She tells WSAZ that she appreciates all the love, kindness and support that community and other friends and family have shown her through this challenging time.
While the whole process has been difficult, frightening and emotionally stressful, she hopes to spread consciousness and save just one other person from this burden or heartache.
Although it is she who typically cheers on the sidelines of sporting events, she is ready to get into the game and start the battle of her life.
“The kids really give you a lot to fight for,” she said.
To help the family financially, click here.
If you would like to accompany Monica on this journey, check out this Facebook page.
To learn more about St. Mary’s Breast Center, follow this link.
During the month of October, St. Mary’s Breast Center free mammography for uninsured and underinsured women who meet certain income guidelines. These mammograms will be paid for through St. Mary’s Pink Ribbon Fund, a fund under St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation. Call St. Mary’s Breast Center at 304.526.8221 for more information on how to qualify for a free mammogram and / or to schedule an appointment.
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