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- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
HLM News Service—Kathy Windmoeller was just an ordinary Missouri woman preparing for a vacation. She had her equipment, her family was packed, and everyone was ready for a ski trip to Canada. Although Windmoeller had never been skiing, she looked forward to the challenge and adventure awaiting her and her family. A few days before she left, she performed a breast self-examination.
“I just wanted to make sure there was nothing so I wouldn’t have to worry while I was on the trip,” she said.
Windmoeller never went on that trip due to the small lump she found during her self-examination. Reacting quickly, Windmoeller sought medical attention and after a biopsy showed the lump was malignant, she acted decisively. The diagnosis was made on Friday and Windmoeller underwent lumpectomy surgery the following Tuesday. Windmoeller’s fast response may have saved her life, and it’s something women in Ava can emulate. Along with the self-examination, Windmoeller had regular mammograms, something which the American Cancer Society recommends annually for all women over the age of 40.
Ten years into continued remission from breast cancer, Windmoeller, a registered nurse, now facilitates the Mid-Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Group in Columbia, Mo. “Knowledge and awareness are important, but once you’re diagnosed, many can be helped by support groups as well. It’s important to know you aren’t alone,” she said.
Those who have breast cancer are not alone in Missouri.
Based on data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) from 1998-2007, there were 122 cases of breast cancer among Douglas County women. Over 1998-2008, 23 Douglas County women lost their lives to breast cancer.
While any lives lost to breast cancer are too many, prevention can help limit the cost to Douglas County women. Cancer researchers and advocates maintain that although mammography is not the only tool in preventing cancer, it is an important player in early detection. In Missouri, less than 9 percent of women 40 and older report never receiving a mammogram. But according to 2007 DHSS data, 28 percent of Missouri women did not get screened for breast cancer through a yearly mammogram or clinical breast examination in the last year.
Dr. Jane Armer, director of Nursing Research at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center remarked that “since age and gender are the leading factors associated with breast cancer, screening and early detection are most effective in early diagnosis and treatment and lead to optimal outcomes.”
In order to lower your risk of breast cancer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Health Literacy Missouri offer the following recommendations for women in Ava:
Make sure you know your family history of breast cancer and talk to your doctor about other risk factors that may affect you.
Talk with your doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk. If you’re 40 or over, the American Cancer society still recommends you have an annual mammogram.
If you notice a lump, hard knot or thickening, changes in the size or shape of the breast, or other differences see your health care provider right away.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle by keeping a proper weight, getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake.
For more information, contact the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or http://www.cancer.org.