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“You’re Never Too Young” A Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Hard-Earned Wisdom

“I was diligent about examination, and I was young. I never thought it would happen to me.” That’s how 48-year-old Lisa Klouw sums up her reaction to a breast cancer diagnosis last year.

Her diagnosis came in an (admittedly) unusual way. “I started having mammograms at age 30 due to some odd symptoms after a pregnancy,” she recalls. “And while I was diligent about self-checks and annual mammograms, I credit my late grandmother with helping me catch my cancer early. I had a nightmare in which she was very clearly telling me to get a checkup.”

So Lisa bumped up her annual schedule, and sure enough…there was a lump. That diagnosis came as a surprise to Lisa. “I don’t know what we would have done without Carol (Nurse Navigator) in the Breast Evaluation Center,” Lisa says. “She was absolutely wonderful. She walked us through everything, and helped us select the physicians to use. My doctor wanted to do an MRI to confirm that there was only one lump. Turns out there were three spots. North Ottawa had the technology to do everything right there, and I’m so glad they did. That saved me from having multiple surgeries.”

Lisa opted for the double mastectomy on her doctor’s advice. That allowed her to avoid chemo and radiation. She also decided to have reconstructive surgery, again upon the doctor’s advice. “It was painful, but very worth it,” she notes. “I don’t think I would have felt complete without it.”

Breast cancer is a family ordeal. Lisa’s husband, Scott, was by her side every step of the way. “The people at North Ottawa respected the way our family approached this disease and Lisa’s care,” he notes. “I never once felt left out or excluded. The staff helped each of us understand our roles so we could care for Lisa.”

Lisa’s diagnosis came almost a year ago. The family recently took a Disney trip with their daughters to celebrate. “You need something to look forward to,” Lisa notes. “I really recommend that every family set a goal to celebrate the end of treatment. You’re using the positive to counteract all the worry.”

“We got a second chance,” Scott says simply. ”We worked our way through this, and now we know we can work through anything. Our family is stronger because of it.”

What’s Lisa’s advice? “Get checked every year,” she urges. “No one in my family had breast cancer. I had no symptoms. We are so lucky to have the wonderful people and advanced technology of North Ottawa right here in our community. Don’t let fear stand in your way.”

You can call the Breast Evaluation Center any time to schedule a mammogram. It’s covered by most insurance. And if that feels like too much work, stop by the community walk-in clinics in October
(see below). It literally could save your life.

NOCHS is offering walk-in screening mammograms during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Just stop by the Breast Evaluation Clinic with your insurance card any Wednesday in October from 8:00am – noon. Come in the front entrance of the hospital (under the canopy) and our friendly volunteers will point you in the right direction.

Learn more here.

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