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FIGHTING BACK: An annual mammogram gave early warning to one survivor

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) -  The Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" in Lansing is coming up this Sunday.

Statistics show most women with breast cancer don't have a family history of the disease.

Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer. 

That's why every woman  needs to pay attention to their breasts. 
    
For Kristin St. Marie her annual mammogram made all the difference.  
    
In the spring of 2015, just like she's done every year for a decade, Kristin St. Marie got a mammogram.

She served on the Board for the "Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure" so she knows how important the tests are. 

Kristin describes what happened next. "I went in and they called me right away and said, we think we might have seen something. We'd like you to come back for another test." 

Doctors found calcifications in her right breast that weren't there the previous year, and wanted to do a biopsy to see why they suddenly popped-up. 

"There's absolutely no cancer in my family and I'm still fairly young and healthy," explained Kristin. "And I just thought it's going to be nothing." 
 
But it was something.

And, the week of her 50th birthday, Dr. David Anderson from the MSU Women's Imaging Center called and told her she had breast cancer. 

"It takes your breath away to think, oh my god. I have cancer," said Kristin. "And you don't ever think you're going to hear that. Just really like a punch in the gut." 

But there was good news.

"He told me on the phone it was "stage zero," it was very early."

Dr. Anderson explains, "ductal carcinoma in situ that would be considered stage zero. That's when you have tumor cells, they're located inside the milk ducts, they haven't moved out of the milk ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. It's essentially 100 percent treatable if you do the proper care." 

And for Kristin that care included two lumpectomies, followed by 3 and a half weeks of radiation.

She was able to work full-time through it all and even trained-for, and finished a half marathon at the same time.

"Anything you set your mind to, you can achieve," Kristin says, "and I just felt like that was my way of, you know, taking control of the situation and not letting cancer defeat me." 

Dr. Anderson agrees. "A breast cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be a death sentence. It's when you treat it appropriately and quickly, it's something that you can survive and it may just be a bump in the road for some women." 

And that's exactly what its been for Kristin.  

Thanks to her yearly mammogram, she still has miles of open road to roam. 


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