Finding it early is key

Editor’s Note: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest support group for survivors. Communities across the country come together every year to hold more than 5,200 Relay For Life events in celebration of those continuing to fight and those who have won. In honor of Mifflin-Juniata’s 20th Annual Relay for Life, local survivors are reaching out to the community with their own stories. Angie Bagrosky, of Lewistown, shares her survivor story:

“I am a one-year breast cancer survivor. My story begins at the age of 41 with my second mammogram ever. The radiologist came in to talk with me because there was something showing on the test that she didn’t like the look of. She wanted to schedule a biopsy.

“I was floored, instantly sick in my stomach. My family kept telling me everything was going to be alright, but somehow I just didn’t have the same confidence. Within a week the biopsy was done and the results came in – It was definitely cancer. Again, I was floored. Nobody in my family ever had breast cancer.

“I left work that day and don’t even remember my drive home. It was as if someone had just issued me a death sentence. I could not stop crying when I called my family with the bad news. I have breast cancer.

“After three days of feeling sick and constantly crying, I decided that I needed to take control and figure out what I was going to do. After researching, I found a doctor at the Hershey Breast Center. I knew this was the right decision after calling to make my appointment. I remember them telling me that all I needed to do was show up and they would take care of the rest.

“My first appointment was an MRI. Fortunately, it only showed the cancer was in my left breast and nowhere else. During my second appointment, I met my surgeon Dr. Kass and she wanted a lymph node biopsy done, which wasn’t a very pleasant test, but again, the results were good news. The cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. Next, she wanted a genetic test done to make sure that I didn’t have the gene to be a carrier of cancer. I had that test done at the Hershey Cancer Institute and the results came back negative.

“After all of these tests, Dr. Kass made the decision to perform a lumpectomy. This was my first surgery ever and I was scared to death, but with the support of my family and friends and my faith in God, the surgery was a success and all the cancer was removed.

“After the healing process I was able to get by without chemo, but had 33 radiation treatments, which were all done at the Lewistown Cancer Center. My follow-up mammogram showed that I was cancer free! What a great feeling that is!

“I now have to take Tamoxifin every day for five years and have a mammogram every six months. I have been blessed with great doctors, nurses, family and friends.

“My story is all about early detection.”