Women defy odds, stress importance of breast cancer screenings

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. As the second leading cause of death for women, the numbers hit home for Oakwood’s Laura Ruch.

Her dear friends Michelle Schaumburg and Amy Wise were diagnosed with breast cancer just months apart. For Schaumburg in particular—a 3D scan uncovered she had stage one breast cancer.

3D mammography is available at Carle Danville on Fairchild and at Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center making the service more accessible for patients like Schaumburg and Ruch.

“I was angry and upset, and I didn’t want to deal with anything having to do with breast cancer,” Rauh said. “Still, two close friends were affected within months of each other, so I knew I couldn’t delay.”

Ruch leapt into action, scheduling her mammogram right away at Carle Danville on Fairchild near her hometown eliminating the need to take time off work for travel to complete her annual breast exam.

“With my recent experiences, it was more nerve wracking than normal, and the staff calmed me and made me comfortable,” Ruch said.

Ruch learned the results quickly—no breast cancer. She slept soundly that night having confidence and reassurance.

“I’m 45. I know I’m supposed to get it every year, but I had no signs and no family history so I put it off,” she said.

Statistics are staggering for her. All told three close friends are survivors. All have had mastectomies.

Wise lost her battle with breast cancer nearly two years ago. The community continues to raise money in her honor at the annual Paint the Field Pink event supporting families in the Oakwood School District that are battling cancer.

“Three people I see and talk to every single week are facing this disease,” she said “One of them had her life saved because she got screened early and they caught it, so why wouldn’t I take a few minutes to get it done, too?”

Angie Hale used to have to drive 45 minutes from Georgetown and take a half day of vacation for her yearly breast cancer screening. Now she conveniently goes to CHRHC over her lunch break.

Getting a mammogram nearby saved her time and worry. After her 2D mammogram yielded “questionable” results, she selected a 3D mammogram. “Insurance covered it and would hopefully eliminate additional follow-up if something showed up on a 2D,” she said.

The procedure felt the same as previous mammograms, but was still a daunting process because Hale feared what it might uncover. The time waiting for results was emotional—filled with fear and panic that her son, Colton, may grow up without his mother.

“Five minutes of a slight discomfort far outweighs the benefits,” Hale said.

Then the good news arrived—all clear.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), some risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Family or personal history of breast cancer
  • Using hormone therapy after menopause
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of exercise
  • Use of alcohol
  • Not having children or having them later in life
  • Recent use of birth control pills

“It’s always important to know their family history,” said Kayla Blundy, NP, in Family Medicine at CHRHC.

Blundy said starting in their 20s, women should become familiar with the shape and look of their breasts and do regular at-home checks to spot any changes and discuss with a healthcare provider. Starting at age 40, the ACS recommends yearly mammograms. Women under age 40 with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns should talk with their healthcare provider.

Carle offers both 2D and 3D mammography. Patients should check with their insurance provider before scheduling. Women need to get a mammogram starting at age 40.