Both times my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, she found the lumps during a self-exam

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share the story of my amazing sister, Lawton Cummings, who lives in Austin, Texas.

Lawton, or Lawty as we call her, is my best friend, and always the life of the party. She is an amazing mother, and wife. She is a brilliant attorney, and she is now battling breast cancer for the second time.

Both times she found the lumps herself, and she believes it made all the difference. “Self-exam is imperative,” she said in a Facetime interview. “It is definitely what saved my life.”

On Easter 2009, when she was just 37 years old, she was lying on her side and saw a lump under her arm. “(I) reached down and felt it, and knew that it was not normal,” she said.

It was breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction. It was tough, but when it was all done, she was cancer-free for a long time.

Then this March, nine years later, she felt another lump. “I was doing a self-exam and found the tiniest little pea right, again, on the edge of my right breast, almost under my arm,” she said. It was breast cancer again, only this time it had spread to her lungs and a lymph node.

It was a scary time, but Lawty is a real success story. She had surgery to remove the pea-sized tumor, and is now taking an oral chemo and hormone therapy daily. “My tumors are shrinking. I feel good. My hair didn’t fall out this time!” she said with a laugh.

Life is good, and she’s glad she found the lumps when she did. We all are. Every day is a blessing, and Lawty’s story is a good reminder.

Dr. Stephanie Miller at Rose Medical Center in Denver says self-exams and screenings like mammograms are vital. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump.

“The best time to have a breast cancer identified is when it is early, because that’s when we can do the best job for them. So, I tell women to know their bodies.  Know if there’s changes, and then follow up on it,” Dr. Miller said.

Cancer treatment, she says, is also improving. “We can offer women the concept that we will be able to have treatments to keep up with their disease as it progresses,” Dr. Miller said.

For that, my family is grateful. Lawty is doing well. She took a new job, is traveling and living a fabulous life. We have years of memories to make, and it’s all thanks to a quick self-check.

Love you Lawty!!!

 

 

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