Pink Plate Campaign: How Early Detection of Breast Cancer Saves Lives

By on October 21, 2016
Pink Plate Campaign: How Early Detection of Breast Cancer Saves Lives

By Allegra Gallian –

When breast cancer survivor Carla Kimball, now 57, found out she had a lump in her breast that turned out to be a tumor, her initial thought wasn’t of herself.

“The first thing I thought was, how am I going to tell my mother after she just lost my father to cancer?” Carla explained.

Just five weeks prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, Carla’s father lost his own battle with cancer. At the time she was 49 years old, a wife and a mother of two sons, ages 16 and 19.

Carla had a history of breast cancer on both sides of her family. Her mother had a lumpectomy in her 40s, and her father’s sister passed away from breast cancer. Because of the family history, she didn’t want to take any chances with her own health.

Becoming a Breast Cancer Fighter

Carla was surprised by the results that she had a tumor because she had been getting yearly mammograms since she was 40 years old. As soon as a biopsy showed that the tumor was malignant, Carla immediately scheduled a lumpectomy. Unfortunately, her margins did not come back clear, so two weeks later she underwent a second lumpectomy.

The results, again, showed that her margins were not clear, so Carla was left with two choices. Her first option was to undergo six weeks of 30 radiation treatments. If the cancer was still there after the six weeks, she would have to wait a year to recover before having a mastectomy. The other option was to go ahead and have the mastectomy.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of having to wait a year, so without a second thought, for me personally, I chose to have a mastectomy right then and there,” she said.

A pathology test showed that she had another malignant tumor in what they originally thought was her “healthy” breast. Carla determined the best option for her was to undergo a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.

“Because of early detection, we were able to catch the cancer so early that I didn’t need to have any chemo treatments and was never sick from the ugly beast of cancer,” Carla said. “My recovery was from the surgery alone.”

Raising Awareness to Help Others

Carla and her husband wanted to do something positive in an effort to raise awareness for the importance of early detection and the treatment of breast cancer.

Carla and her fellow breast cancer survivors Chere Rush, Heather McCullough, Deborah Bordeau and Heather Solari started the Pink Plate Campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of early detection and to help more women and families survive breast cancer. Their mission is to educate, promote and raise funds for breast cancer awareness throughout California.

Through this campaign, people can order a specialized California license plate, and the funds from the sale of these plates will go to the Every Woman Counts (EWC) program. This program provides free clinical breast exams and mammograms to underserved women in California. It’s no secret that early detection saves lives, and the money raised through this important campaign will provide preventative care and potentially save the lives of countless women.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, but the death rates have been dropping since 1989. Thanks to an uptick in patients finding breast cancer early through screenings, awareness and better treatments, this number has steadily decreased every year.

As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it’s important for women, especially older adults, to be aware of their breast health all year long. As Carla noted, seeing these license plates throughout the state will be a constant reminder for women to get their yearly mammograms.

California residents interested in purchasing the California Pink Ribbon License Plate can visit pinkplate.org to place an order.

Allegra Gallian is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in health and wellness, fitness and lifestyle content. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.

 

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Pink Plate Campaign: How Early Detection of Breast Cancer Saves Lives