October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and one local woman who has battled breast cancer twice has two things to say: “don’t ever miss your annual mammogram” and “listen to your body.”
Margaret Pridemore, a Knox County native, was first diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in July 2012. Pridemore religiously went for a mammogram since her early forties but due to a detached tendon in her right arm, she missed one scheduled screening for the first time in her life.
“For some reason, I didn’t get scheduled until six months past that point and it ended up being two full years that I went without a mammogram,” said Pridemore. “At 18 months past my skipped mammogram, my breasts began hurting and I told my doctor about my pain and I reminded him I missed my last mammogram.”
Pridemore’s doctor sent her to the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center for a mammogram and treatment.
“The cancer was found on my right breast and had spread into my chest cavity. My doctor told me they wouldn’t be able to diagnose me until my cancer was removed and sent off to be analyzed,” said Pridemore.
Although four different tests indicated there was no cancer present in her left breast, Pridemore felt uneasy about the situation due to similar pain in the area and opted for a double mastectomy.
“After my surgery, [my doctor] came into my room and told me that I made the right decision. I did have cancer in my left breast, too. It was still in the duct and hadn’t spread out yet,” said Pridemore. “He said if I hadn’t had it removed that I would have been back in not over two years to have that breast removed of the cancer.”
In total, Pridemore has six lymph nodes removed from her right breast along with the double mastectomy.
“Sometimes, you have to listen to your body,” continued Pridemore, who praises God that she is now five years cancer free. “So, I am blessed to still be cancer free and I do encourage all women to please don’t ever miss your annual mammogram, listen to your bodies and be faithful having your regular, annual exams.”