November 15, 2021
Kelly knew she could self-refer for a mammogram at 40 in PEI. Booking that mammogram may have saved her life.
About 6 months ago, at the age of 41, I went for my very first mammogram. I live in Prince Edward Island and had heard about the PEI Breast Screening Program available to any woman over the age of 40, without the need for a doctor or nurse practitioner referral. So I decided to book a mammogram, for no other reason than to be proactive for my own health, I did not find a lump.
My mammogram led to a second more diagnostic one and then a biopsy, after which I received the news no one ever expects to hear, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. My family doctor, as well as my surgeon both completed breast exams after my diagnosis and both could not feel the lump and confirmed that my cancer could only have been found by a mammogram.
Thankfully with surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes (which were clear), 21 rounds of radiation, and hormone therapy for the next 5-10 years, today I am cancer free.
I am a survivor because my cancer was caught early and because I booked a mammogram, a decision I will be forever grateful for making.
It is my hope that eventually all provinces in Canada will offer a similar breast screening program for women 40 years of age and older. Had it not been for the program in PEI and had I waited until the age of 50 to book my first mammogram, my cancer would have had 9 more years to grow and my path of treatment or the outcome could have looked much different.
Be your own best advocate for your health and book a mammogram. It could be one of the single most important decisions you make for your health, for me it was life changing!