Submitted by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
Marilyn Nelson isn’t one to dwell on the negatives of life. In the past 16 months the McKinney grandmother faced a double mastectomy, 18 weeks of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments.
Nelson recalled that when she first heard about the abnormal mammogram, “I kind of pooh-poohed it.” She had experienced false readings before and figured this time was no different.
She soon met with Dr. Radha Iyengar, a breast surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen, who relayed that there was a spot in Nelson’s right breast that looked worrisome. After undergoing a stereotactic biopsy and ultrasound at the Breast Center at Texas Health Allen, Nelson was diagnosed with Stage 0-1 breast cancer and her treatment journey soon began. She underwent a double mastectomy. Chemotherapy and radiation followed.
“There’s been a strong guiding hand,” said Nelson, who along with her husband had moved to North Texas the previous year. “I’ve turned it into more of a blessing. Since we had just moved down here we didn’t know anyone other than our children. I’ve met the neatest people – physicians and caregivers — along the way. Wherever I’ve gone I’ve been touched by very special people.”
Nelson, whose mother died of breast cancer, says she’s always made her yearly mammogram a birthday present to herself as a way of easily remembering when it’s time for her appointment.
Having that kind of reminder is a great idea, Iyengar said.
“Women often put their own health care needs last, but having annual health screenings, such as a mammogram, can help catch problems earlier when they are easier to treat,” she said. “A mammogram might not be the most fun way to celebrate a birthday, but it can help to be sure you are here for your next one.”
Throughout her journey with breast cancer, Nelson said she’s pleased she was able to keep up with her daily routine of picking up her grandchildren from school. And now that she’s moved beyond treatment she’s set a new challenge for herself. “My goal is just to stay healthy and do the best I can.”
To celebrate breast cancer awareness month, the Breast Center at Texas Health Allen will be open extended hours the week of Oct. 22 to 26. Hours will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and individuals who have a mammogram this month will receive a special gift. No doctor’s order is needed. To schedule a mammogram, call 972-747-6000.
For more information, visit TexasHealth.org/Allen.