A Panama City woman is raising awareness for breast cancer screenings
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - Experts say breast cancer screenings were down after Hurricane Michael and now even more after the pandemic.
But one local woman is the perfect example of why you should not neglect one part of your health by trying to protect another.
It was a typical summer day for most everyone, except Panama City local Ann Wing.
“I was the one who found the lump in my chest on July 19th,” said Wing.
It was the day Ann Wing’s life changed. By August, Wing was diagnosed with stage one Breast Cancer. By September, Wing had surgery to remove the lump.
“The earlier a lump or something is detected, the better it is,” said Wing.
Wing said by finding the lump through a self-breast exam, it allowed her to get into treatment sooner.
“Mammograms are really important to get done once a year. I’d encourage women to do that, but I’d also encourage them to do self-breast exams and become familiar with your own body and own breasts,” said Wing.
And while self-breast exams can help early detection, annual mammograms are still recommended for women over 40.
“It shows that earlier detection saves lives. Patients do much better the smaller we find the issue before it becomes a real issue,” Doctor Julie Miller of Bay Radiology Women’s Imaging Center said.
There has been a 30 to 40 percent decline in breast cancer deaths thanks to screenings. But, she says traumatic events like Hurricane Michael and the pandemic cause women to not come in for their mammogram.
“A lot of women are very busy with other things in their lives with families, with COVID, with kids a home, so they kind of put their life on the back burner and their health on the back burner to worry about everyone else,” said Doctor Miller.
Dr. Miller said when small cancers are found in women who waited to come back for a screening, they tell her they wish they would have come in sooner.
“They’ve got to remember to keep coming and put their health first because that’s how they’re at their best,” said Doctor Miller.
Wing said the hardest part of being diagnosed with cancer is waiting for what’s next.
“So once you get the diagnosis and have to go through the different tests and scheduling appointments, it’s the waiting piece of it. What’s next? What’s the next step of it? What’s the next stage? The next treatment? So it’s the waiting,” said Wing.
In October, Wing and her family took a trip to Disney before she gets too far into treatment. Now, she’s meeting with doctors to determine if chemotherapy is the next step.
“Make sure you have support. You don’t have to do it alone. Find somebody out there to help you through this,” said Wing.
Wing said she’s almost positive she’ll have to do radiation, but that she’s just thankful she caught it in the early stages. She hopes people who hear her story will be inspired to get familiar with their bodies because no one knows your body like you do. Doctor Miller adds she wants women to be more aware of their risks and use all the resources in our community.
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