The Breast Test: Ann's Story

A woman shares finds her own breast cancer, hopes to help others

Ann Dollard was diagnosed with breast cancer almost five years ago. After several years worth of medicial visits with no sign of cancer, Ann thought a recurrance was unlikely.  But after watching the report about breast self exams last month, she thought she had better do a self exam.

"I wasn't doing self exams," she said. "I was going back to the oncologist every six months or so and then the mammogram every year. This year, I sort of slacked off and didn't go back."

She performed her own exam and found a lump. What she feared the most was later confirmed - the lump was a malignant tumor.

"Just one little cell left over can come to life again," she said.

Dollard is only 44 years old, which by most standards is young to be facing breast cancer for a second time. But doctors say even young women need to do self exams.

According to Sibley Hospital breast surgeon Dr. Collette Magnant the younger women start to do self breast exams, the more accustomed they become to the routine, as well as a baseline for changes.

Dollard is hopeful that she caught this cancer in time to treat it successfully.  She'll have surgery later this month, and then the doctors will decide whether she'll need chemotherapy and radiation.

In the meantime, she hopes her story will wake some women up to the importance of regular breast self exams.

"If you don't take care of yourself," she said, "then you're not going to be around to take care of the ones you need to take care of."

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