Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 1, 2013

Cancer survivor: vigilance will pay off

Kokomo woman promotes mammograms, self-exams to men and women of all ages.

Jane Read was in the shower on Labor Day weekend seven years ago when her doctor called to deliver bad news.

The then-62-year-old had breast cancer.

She doesn’t remember being scared at all by the diagnosis, though, she said.

“I thought, ‘That’s step one. What’s next?’” she said. “We’re going to fight this.”

And because Read was proactive, she had a fighting chance.

She started getting yearly mammograms when she was 39.

Read said she had a long history of fibrocystic breast disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, fibrocystic breasts are composed of tissue that feels lumpy or rope-like in texture.

It’s a precondition for breast cancer, said Read, who is also a nurse.

The Kokomo woman had a breast cancer scare long before she was diagnosed in 2006.

“I had some lumps that formed overnight,” she said.

Read immediately went to the doctor, and she underwent a lumpectomy to have the mass removed. It was benign.

She felt no lumps when she went for a yearly mammogram in 2006. But the old machines showed a shadow that warranted more testing. So she was sent for a digital mammogram.

Those were new at the time and very expensive.

That test, too, showed a spot. And a biopsy later revealed that it was cancerous. It was a slow-growing cancer caught in the very early stages, she said.

Her treatment was a little tricky, though. Read also suffers from an auto-immune disease called lupus. She couldn’t undergo radiation therapy because of it, she said.

“The doctor asked me ‘How would you feel about a mastectomy?’” she recalled. “I laughed and said if that’s what needs to be done. There’s not much there anyway.”

So that’s what happened. Doctors removed one of her breasts.

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