It’s officially breast cancer awareness month. Doctors say despite the pandemic, it’s essential to schedule your annual mammogram.
News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with one young local breast cancer survivor, Patrice Sidhu, who was only 30 years old when diagnosed.
She says a mammogram helped save her life.
“I was doing a self exam about a month after my 30th birthday,” said Sidhu. She says she knew something was wrong back in November of 2018.
“Immediately there was a very visible lump. I was laying down...I could feel it right in the center of my chest,” she said.
After feeling that lump, Sidhu says she went to Desert Regional’s Comprehensive Care Center in Palm Springs to get a mammogram. Doctors then ordered a biopsy of the mass.
“The way that he said it was, ‘Unfortunately it came back positive.’ And I was like...positive for what? And he said for breast cancer. And immediately, the air got knocked out of me,” she said.
That shocking news, got worse. In December, doctors told her she had stage 2A triple-negative breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form.
“It is the most aggressive type of breast cancer there is,” explained Sidhu.
And so, she began her fight to live.
Sidhu says she lost her hair but not hope. After six months of chemo, 33 rounds of radiation and a partial mastectomy later -- today, she is in remission.
She’s now encouraging others to frequently self examine and make mammograms a yearly routine.
“Had I not caught it...if I had waited another 6 months...I don’t know that my prognosis would be so good,” she said.
“It is very worth it...the imaging nowadays does take less than 3 minutes,” said Jessica Jones, a supervisor at Desert Comprehensive Breast Center.
Jones says getting a mammogram today is easy, quick and painless. However due to the pandemic, they’re seeing fewer patients than before.
“We’ve had a lot of patients not showing up...not even for examinations or even follow up appointments. And I know the fear is COVID,” said Dr. Judy Jackson, Medical Director, Radiation Oncology, Desert Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Jackson says they have new protective measures and protocols in place. “We’ve had not one single patient prevent COVID from this facility,” she said.
She says “cancer won’t wait” for the pandemic to end. She’s urging people to prioritize getting seen: “Please...get treated, get your exams, get your mammograms. help yourself, help your life, help your family.”