AUSTIN, Texas — A new report from the American Cancer Society found that Black women are more likely than any other racial group to die from breast cancer, even though it is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in women.
A large factor behind this statistic is that Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white women are. This disparity comes from inequalities in access to care, socioeconomic differences and timely cancer prevention and treatment.
KVUE spoke with one woman who discovered something unusual in her breast after conducting a self-diagnosis.
"I normally do my breast cancer check when I was in the shower," Christene Lewis said. "I kind of felt a lump."
Few women are able to detect breast cancer themselves, but Lewis and her daughter were devastated when the exam results confirmed the diagnosis.
"I feel like, for any child, it should be hard to see a parent go through something like this," said Shirelle Lewis, Christene Lewis's daughter. "I lost my father when I was 19. He had a heart attack. And so I only have her, you know. You never know what the outcome can be."
Christene Lewis was able to get treatment shortly after her diagnosis with the guidance of her oncologist, Dr. Om N. Pandey, at Ascension Medical Group Seton.
"It's been a long journey," Shirelle Lewis said. "We're about, I think 14, 15 months, and she's had to get multiple different types of treatments, chemotherapy."
The chemotherapy treatments took a toll on Christene Lewis's body. She experienced dehydration, shortness of breath and low platelet counts, in addition to being in and out of the hospital for periods of time.
"Some [of the treatments had] been too strong for her, to where it sent her to the hospital multiple times," Shirelle Lewis siad. "They had to take her off and readjust their treatment plan."
Once Christene Lewis was well enough, the next step in her treatment plan was to remove the remaining cancer from her body. The Ascension Seton team performed a lumpectomy on one of her breasts and removed between 18 and 20 lymph nodes, as well as a breast reduction on the non-cancerous side.
Christene Lewis is now done with radiation and is finishing her immunotherapy sessions before she is able to ring the bell and celebrate her recovery from cancer.
She wants to remind people to get regularly screened for breast cancer because it could save your life.
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