Honoring breast cancer survivors
Opal Lackey is one of the more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. She was just 13 years old when she had her first lump removed from her right breast. The nodule turned out to be a cyst. Making things more difficult she has several of what is known as fibroid cysts. This began a lifetime of breast exams and checkups to ensure any nodule found was not cancerous. In 1996, when she was 43 years old another lump was found on the same breast. It was also benign.
In 2003, after one screening while living in St. Louis, she was called back in, which was not unusual as the fibroid cysts often caused her to be called back for more tests. This time was different. Her doctor told her that they detected a lump in her left breast and it looked like it was cancer. The call came close to Christmas and although they told her they don’t normally do it that way, they wanted to do a needle biopsy that very day. Opal was by herself with no one to go with her to the biopsy as the hospital preferred. She wasn’t worried and decided to go ahead with the procedure. Soon the results came back. “I want to say it was the day before Christmas Eve, it could even have been Christmas Eve even, they called me and they asked me who was with me. And right then, I knew,” Opal recalled. “All of my kids are sitting right here and a couple of my step-kids and my husband, and they said, “Well, we normally don’t do this, but we’re doing this different also, but it is cancerous.”” Opal was scheduled to come into the hospital immediately after the holiday for tests. “I had to go through all kinds of different tests because they wanted to be sure they didn’t miss it any place else.” When Opal went in to hear the results the doctor showed her that cancer was throughout her breast. “I took my mammograms every year. This was just like, “Oh no!”, you know, how does this happen in one year’s time?!,” she exclaimed. Opal had to go in for more testing, and had lumps removed from under her arm to see if it had spread anywhere. During the process, she had an allergic reaction to the blue dye and her body turned blue.
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