It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are getting ready for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The American Cancer Society recommends most women get yearly mammograms at 45. One Tucson woman says a mammogram saved her life.
"Get detected as soon as possible, if not for you, do it for your kids, do it for whoever. If you find it earlier it's more chances of you living," said Nicole, a breast cancer survivor.
When Nicole would hear the word "cancer," she says it meant an automatic death sentence. That's because she lost many loved ones to the disease. And in 2013 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"It was like getting hit by a truck, everyone I had known at that particular time, ten people, had died. To me, I was about to die," said Nicole.
At just 40 years old, after recently losing her aunt to cancer, and her friend's mom died because of the disease, he convinced her to get a mammogram which changed her life.
"It was partly in my wall, so that was another reason why it wasn't detected before, we just happened to find it because I just happened to go in," said Nicole.
A single mom, with two children, Nicole was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. When talking about treatment, one doctor recommended a double mastectomy, but she wanted more answers.
"Ask questions, it's your body. Ask questions," said Nicole.
After switching doctors, Nicole got a lumpectomy and four months of radiation, no chemo. The American Cancer Society and other local charities helped her get through a difficult time, emotionally and financially.
"Whether it would be meds, whether it would be rent or anything like that, I applied for a couple of things, I would've been homeless," said Nicole.
Nicole is a cancer-free but says she's now living the new normal. She's taking a pill to reduce high estrogen levels, and dealing with the side effects of depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
"Stuff I never had to deal with before I've had to deal with, I've never been to jail, but it feels like sometimes you're in jail in your head. I've driven to Michigan from here, no problem. But I was scared for four months just to drive to the corner to get to Walmart to this day, four years later I go grocery shopping at 4 in the morning because I have panic attacks still.
Having cancer affects your emotional and physical health, make sure you're discussing any feelings and thoughts with your cancer care team.