“I’m here because I got my annual mammogram”: Ann’s story

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In 2018, Ann was a featuring BRAvo performer. Today, she’s 5 years into her breast cancer survivorship.

In the morning or night, every day I see a verse I keep next to my bed, a message that I absolutely love.

In case no one
   told you today,
   you’re beautiful
   you’re loved,
   you’re needed.
You’re alive for a reason
   you’re stronger
   than you think,
   you’re gonna
   get through this.
I’m glad you’re alive.

Don’t give up!

It’s so impactful and gets me every time.

It’s been a meaningful time for me. In September, I celebrated five years of survivorship after my fight with breast cancer.

It was an incredibly emotional time for me and my family since statistics show that making it to five years increases your odds of making it to 10 years. And with a husband and two kids now in college, this means I have a greater chance of staying in their lives. That means everything to me.

Being able to stay in their lives, I owe a lot to my annual mammogram. During this month of Breast Cancer Awareness, I urge all women to keep to their mammogram schedule – because my screening saved my life.

I always kept my screenings. One year I was clear, and the next I was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer, which had already progressed to stage 3.

But I’m here now, and I’d like to stick to the positive.

And one of the biggest thrills I had post-cancer (one of the biggest thrills of my whole life!) was when I danced on BRAvo night.

Walking up on stage, I was absolutely TERRIFIED, and I’m not the kind of person who normally gets scared. But being able to do a dance with my daughter, for her to see the good and feel the joy in that room, with all the survivors like her mom, is an experience that I’ll always be eternally grateful for.

It was one thing to see the dances from the table, but to be on-stage and see the sea of people out there looking at you was so amazing that it’s hard to put into words. It was so wonderful to be able to share that with her.

I’m so grateful to be alive.

Being here allowed me to help my mother get through her own cancer diagnosis (she’s doing very well) and for my cousin, who was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. I get to see her weekly, and even though it’s not the same kind of cancer, I still get to be there for her and let her know a little about what she can expect.

I still see my doctor for follow-ups every three months, and I still have lymphedema from my diagnosis, and now I’ve developed some neuropathy in my hands and feet, but in the face of all that, I’m still here.

I’m here because I got my annual mammogram.

Please don’t delay yours.