A clear mammogram, then 6 weeks later a bombshell

A clear mammogram, then 6 weeks later a bombshell
Family

POSTED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 6:30am

UPDATED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 6:34am

With four kids and a dorm full of teen girls to watch, Bobbi Moran has always been incredibly busy, active and healthy. She went in for her yearly mammogram and was pleased to hear that nothing troubling appeared.

But just six weeks later, during a routine visit to her ob-gyn, she couldn't believe what she heard.

"The doctor said to me 'Is this something new?' She felt a lump and right away I was thinking, 'No, I never felt that before'," says Moran, describing the shape of the small protrusion as similar to a pencil eraser. An ultrasound was inconclusive, so she decided to go ahead with a biopsy. Then a phone call changed Moran's life forever.

"I remember at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon on a rainy day, they said, 'You have cancer,' and you could've knocked me over with a feather," says this 46-year-old sports information director and varsity field hockey coach at Loomis Chaffee, a private high school in Windsor.

But a sudden difference or discovery in the breast isn't all that uncommon. "It can change very quickly," says Dr. Lori Gomez of Connecticut Valley Radiology in Bloomfield. "It can change within months, really."

Even though awareness has grown over the last decade, she believes that some of us continue to fear mammograms. "I still see women that come in every five years or they say they're worried about it being uncomfortable," says Gomez, noting that skilled technologists make the examination as quick and easy as possible.

She thinks it is more frightening not to sign-up for screening: "It really is a life and death issue." Once a woman is 35 or 40, depending on family and personal history, it is vital for her to begin to accumulate annual mammograms, so that doctors can compare the look of the breast tissue year after year. Thanks to new technology and heightened knowledge about the importance of self breast exams, there is much more hope for women who are diagnosed with the disease. "The treatments are only improving," says Gomez. "Early detection is getting better."

After a lumpectomy, Moran turned to a sisterhood of survivors for support: "I looked at them and said, 'You know what, she's been through this. I can do this, I can do this.''Because it's scary to go through it." She also shared her experience with the teenage girls she coaches and mentors by speaking honestly with them: "My big thing to them was, 'Cancer picked the wrong person to mess with,' and I think they really gained a lot of strength out of that."

Wearing pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Moran says she is now cancer-free. She plans to celebrate her one-year anniversary of completing radiation on Oct. 10 watching her team "Play for the Cure" during a very special field hockey game. She hopes her story of vigilance and early detection will inspire other women to act and to take care of themselves. "I think we are our own best advocates in this," says Moran. "Don't wait!"

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