Be A Survivor: Breast Cancer | Colorectal Cancer

Let's take back

the power

we've given to

the word cancer.

Say the word.

Just because you don’t have cancer doesn’t mean you’re not living with it.

Nearly everyone knows and cares about someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, but most of us still feel powerless to talk about it. It is a word that is loaded with fear, anxiety, and ignorance. We need a place where we can set those things aside, learn, and better understand what it means to live with cancer.

We can take back the power we’ve given the word “cancer.” We can start by not being afraid to say it.

Learn how

Story Center Read More Stories

Breast Density: Five Things You Should Know

Heart framing on woman chest with pink badgeBreasts are composed of a variety of tissues, but the tissue doctors refer to as dense is very common. In fact, 40-47 percent of women who are between the ages of 40 and 74 have what is considered dense breast tissue.

Dense breast tissue isn’t a disease, but it is an independent risk factor for breast cancer, one that can increase risk for breast cancer between 1.5-2.5 percent. That’s according to Josie Alpers, MD, a mammography and radiology specialist with the Avera Medical Group Radiology.

Here are some facts about dense breast tissue:

1)    All breasts are composed of fatty tissue, milk ducts and dense tissue. Women who are younger and thinner tend to have more dense tissue in their breasts.

2)    Dense breast tissue is not noticeable to touch. It is only visible in mammograms and can “hide” tumors due to the similarity in appearance in these scans. Physicians prefer 3-D tomosynthesis mammography because it often provides a clearer image of the breast and can help physicians detect cancer in dense tissue.

3)    Dense tissue can make it harder to find a tumor, but the American College of Radiology does not recommend additional testing for women who have dense breasts if they are in the population considered average risk. Contrast-enhanced spectral mammography, or CESM, can help physicians and patients who need additional imaging. CESM is safe, quick and less expensive than an MRI. Ultrasounds are reserved for focal symptoms or mammographic abnormalities.

4)    Dense tissue typically decreases as women age, gain weight or reach menopause. While it would seem this change is good, surprisingly, each of these changes brings with it a potential risk increase for breast cancer. Remember, dense tissue isn’t a disease, but it can make detection more difficult.

5)    Hormonal changes due to menopause or hormone therapies can lead to an increase in dense tissue in the breast. Don’t forget women who are considered in the population that has average risk only need mammograms on a regular basis.

Ask your physician or advance practice provider any questions you might have about dense breast tissue.

The Whispering Cancer – Ovarian Cancer

Balance sized Anola Ketelhohn and Dr Rojas teal time Balance blogWhen Anola Ketelhohn went in for her yearly physical in 2014, she expressed concerns with bloating, stomach discomfort and even trouble eating – she felt full after only a few bites. She never considered that it could be ovarian cancer – the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Neither did her doctor, who recommended a colonoscopy to look for possible digestive issues.

When her doctor wasn’t able to complete the colonoscopy due to an obstruction, a CT scan was immediately ordered and revealed a basketball-sized ovarian tumor in her abdomen. Her care team at Avera moved quickly – scheduling an appointment with gynecologic oncologist Luis Rojas, MD, within a day and surgery within five days to remove the tumor. One month after surgery, Anola began a treatment plan that included 18 weekly chemotherapy sessions at Avera Medical Group Gynecologic Oncology . After nine months in remission, the ovarian cancer recurred. This time, she received a different chemotherapy treatment and has now been in remission for nine months.

“During the second round of treatment, I had to rely even more so on my family, friends, co-workers, faith and the power of positive thinking,” she says. “The entire Avera staff has been amazing too. Dr. Rojas is very kind and caring. He always took time to answer my questions and talk with me. He’d even come to the infusion room to check on me. Today, I’m feeling wonderful and celebrating my nine-month remission.”

Subtle Symptoms

Ovarian cancer is often known as the “whispering cancer,” because many of the symptoms are also caused by other less serious conditions. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks and if they are a change from how you normally feel, discuss them with your provider.

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Pelvic pressure or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms such as having to go frequently or urgently

“I encourage every woman to really listen to her body. Because ovarian cancer whispers, you may not notice it if you aren’t listening.  Like myself – I didn’t know about the symptoms, so I never thought that I had ovarian cancer,” says Anola.

Learn more about ovarian cancer symptoms and diagnosis.

Turning The Falls Teal

Today Anola and her husband Bob are passionate about raising awareness about ovarian cancer. “We want women to realize the importance of listening to their bodies and being their own best advocates. If you can notice and describe any changes in your body and then be proactive in getting the help you need, you can beat the odds.”

To help raise awareness, the Ketelhohns organized a Turning the Falls Teal event sponsored by Diamond Mowers, to be held this Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25 at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD. Throughout the weekend event, the Falls of the Big Sioux River will be colored teal, which is the official color for ovarian cancer awareness.

Learning to live with cancer will not give you cancer.

Picture life with cancer.

Share pictures of life with cancer using the photo-sharing app Instagram on your smartphone. Just tag your photo with #PictureCancer.

We've discovered the cure for fear.

Say The Word in 140 characters.

We're taking back the power we've given the word cancer by curing fear through knowledge and support. Share your fears and send your support using hashtag #CureFear.

Cure Fear @CureFear

Dr. Kathleen Schneekloth, Radiation Oncologist, treats lung cancer patients each day

Avera Marshall @AveraMarshall

Deb Baumann talks about the potential for the new Avera Cancer Institute Marshall.

Cure Fear @CureFear

Lung cancer accounts for about 14% of all new cancers.

Avera McKennan @AveraMcKennan

More than 11k women with ovarian cancer will lose the fight, but there are plenty refusing to give up.

Cure Fear @CureFear

There will be about 22,350 new cases of multiple myeloma in the United States for 2013.