LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Between running the home, running errands and chasing kids - many moms put their own health on the back burner and the consequences of this trend can be detrimental.
Even in Stephanie Ryder's office here at KPLC, pictures of her children and grandbabies show her focus in life is on those she loves - but through the years, that caused her to not worry so much about her own well-being. "I really think it was just a case of putting myself on the back burner while I took care of everybody else," she says.
When it came time for her annual mammogram, Stephanie didn't give it much thought and had no idea how far behind she really was. "When I went, it was - oh, I just better go get one - I've missed two or three," says Stephanie, "not realizing it was six."
Six years...and no screenings. Still, Stephanie wasn't too worried when her results came back with a question mark. "Something came back suspicious," she says, "so they had me go for another one and really, still at this point, I thought 'not any big deal.'"
Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Dr. Thomas Strong says Stephanie didn't fit the typical profile of a woman prone to breast cancer. "She had no family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer and she really had no risk factors," says Dr. Strong.
But after two mammograms, an ultrasound and a needle biopsy - it was evident that Stephanie did indeed have a malignant tumor. "I was just numb," says Stephanie, "I can remember that my head was tingling and I felt numb."
Between the surgery, chemo and radiation, Stephanie and her family had a tough year killing the cancer inside of her body. Had she put off another year's mammogram, though, her story could have a much different ending. "She had an aggressive tumor even though it was early stage," says Dr. Strong, "and certainly it's a tumor that could have spread within a year's time."
Now, Stephanie is cancer-free, feeling like herself again and encouraging other women to learn from the lesson she learned the hard way. "If you want to be everything you can be," she says, "I encourage you to let your health be a priority, number one, and I learned that!"
For the next few years, Stephanie will continue taking a medication called Tomoxifen to lower her risk for redeveloping breast cancer.
*The most successful treatment for breast cancer comes from early detection with mammograms and your chance to win a free mammogram is just a phone call away! Call Memorial's Breast Health Program at 480-7444 for your chance to win a mammogram. Click here for a link to this month's "Keeping the Girls Healthy" events.