For this Survivor Saturday we are highlighting someone near and dear to our affiliate, Mary Alfrey. Mary is the Executive Director at the Ozark Affiliate and recently was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mary did not feel anything or notice a change in her breasts. Her breast cancer was caught during her annual screening mammogram. After her diagnosis, Mary wants to make sure to continue to spread the message of why it is so very important for women 40 or older get their annual mammogram.
“I have always been diligent about preventive healthcare, by making healthy choices and having annual wellness checks. When I moved to Arkansas last April, I quickly made a “to do” list for making appointments to the doctor, dentist, eye doctor and for my annual mammogram.
Because of my job, I have frequent meetings at The Breast Center in Fayetteville. I have had the opportunity to tour the facility and meet the majority of the staff. Despite this easy access, I asked myself in August why I hadn’t taken care of this important annual screening. How could the Executive Director of Komen Ozark possibly go into Breast Cancer Awareness month without having a mammogram?
I made the appointment and the routine screening went well; everyone was so helpful and friendly. Check… done…. but definitely not over.
I really wasn’t too surprised when I got a call from Dr. Grear asking me to stop in for a few more pictures and perhaps an ultrasound. This had happened before. I quickly arranged my work schedule so I could take care of things that afternoon.
I clearly recall Dr. Grear looking carefully at the screen during the ultrasound and saying, “This is very concerning.” She explained a biopsy would be the next necessary step to clearly understand and detect what the pictures were revealing. They were able to accommodate me immediately, so I opted for a needle biopsy. The procedure was not painful and as I headed home, I felt comfort and assurance. No matter the outcome, I knew I was in good hands.
Dr. Grear promised she would call the next day. True to her word she called with the news on September 12, 2013 – the biopsy revealed infiltrating ductal cancer. The wheels were quickly set in motion to begin my treatment plans.
Now one month into my journey I am still processing information – understanding lumpectomies, triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy, wigs, radiation, and keeping track of the multitude of appointments filling my calendar. I have much to learn and will continue to share my story over the next weeks and months. But today my message is simple. Get screened. If you have not made an appointment for your mammogram, please do it today. Encourage someone you love to schedule their appointment. Many Komen Ozark grantees provide funding for screenings, for transportation, for mobile units. Don’t let these barriers stop you or someone you love. Early detection saves lives! “
—Mary Alfrey, Komen Ozark Executive Director