TULSA, Okla. — "I never imagined I'd be 37 with a terminal diagnosis. That's just not something that was ever on my path," Stephanie Currington told 2 Works for You.
As a wife, mother of three and professional accountant, fighting cancer did not add into her life plans. That all changed in 2012, when her physician found a lump in her breast.
A clinical examination is considered an important tool in the effort to diagnose breast cancer. Monthly self exams are also recommended for women as well as men.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates 2,190 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and 410 will die. While it is a small percentage of the adult population, doctors said men can pinpoint changes in their breast area with a simple exam in the shower each month. Studies show that finding tissue changes early, and seeking medical advice quickly, can have a dramatic impact on a patient's survival rate.
"Obviously, when you're talking about cancer, the earliest you can detect it, the treatment options are much more successful at the early stages," said Dr. Mark Blubaugh, medical director at Tulsa ER & Hospital.
Mammograms are another important diagnostic tool. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women ages 45 to 54. Testing may be done earlier for patients with a family history of breast cancer or genetic predisposition.
"And it's definitely important for that patient for annual screening mammograms whether she's at a defined age or not," Dr. Blubaugh said.
His colleague, Dr. Chris Simic, also an emergency medicine physician, added, "If you have a loved one and it's recommended they do their yearly screenings, make them do it. Goad them to do it. Whatever you got to do, make them do it."
As for Stephanie, she enjoyed several years of good health following a bilateral mastecomy. It wasn't until a sudden fall from a swing broke the vertebrae in her spine that she discovered the cancer had returned. Diagnostic tests revealed her spine was extremely fragile due to the cancer that had metasticized to her bone. After major surgery to protect her spine, Stephanie is now living with stage four metastatic breast cancer; a terminal diagnosis. She takes medication each day to slow the spread of the cancer with the goal of spending more time with her family.
Knowing that every moment is precious, Stephanie advises women not to waste time with excuses. Schedule a mammogram.
"Anything can happen and any life can be cut short," Stephanie Currington said. "I just want people to know it can happen when you are young and least expecting it. Get those mammogram and self-checks. It is important!"
For additional information on mammography, and other vital diagnostic testing for men and women, click here.
For more information about Tulsa ER & Hospital, click here.
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