Get a mammogram.
That’s the advice Shelley Smith has for women after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2019 at the age of 42. She says she found a lump through a self exam, but was told she was too young and the doctor didn’t think she needed to worry about it.
“She tested my thyroid. She did blood work, because I was having chest pains and shortness of breath and cough,” Smith says. “I thought it was maybe anxiety or something. But that’s actually symptoms of breast cancer, and I had no idea. Fortunately, I asked her after all the blood work came back, ‘Can we just go ahead and do a mammogram and make sure this is all right?’”
The doctor agreed. About a month later, Smith had the exam. However, after a call about the results the next day, she knew it was serious.
Smith says she was shocked by the diagnosis, but her husband, Josh, was her rock through everything.
“He immediately picked up the phone and called the doctor back and said, ‘What are we doing?’” Smith recalls. “I think co-survivors get overlooked a lot, but Josh is my co-survivor, and he was my fighter. He made sure that we were in to see the doctor right away.”
Smith went through four rounds of chemotherapy every three weeks, and throughout it all, her husband was always there for her.
“If it had not been for him, I don’t know how this would’ve turned out. When we went through chemo, all I had to do was get dressed and he had me there. When he’s in the chemo room, he’s walking around talking to everybody, making sure everybody’s got what they need.”
After chemotherapy, she underwent surgery to remove the lump. Then came the radiation, which she said was one of the hardest parts.
“You have to be there every single day, and again Josh was my rock,” she says. “He got me there – wore out a set of tires getting me there.”
July 2020 marked a year since Smith’s last treatment. A mammogram also came out clear and she has another one coming up next month. After her own experience, Smith says she tells women to get mammograms.
“I tell people all the time, when people talk to me about cancer, go get a mammogram,” she says. “Insist on getting a mammogram. It doesn’t matter if you have anything. Go get a mammogram. It’s that important.”