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Standing up to breast cancer
The most common symptoms of breast cancer are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. For more information, visit:
It was the first time Forrest Bateman had publicly talked about his sister, and her gallant three-year fight against cancer.
For many of the Maxwell seniors and juniors gathered on the football field Tuesday morning, it may also have been the first time they heard the sobering truth about cancer from someone they know.
Bateman told the group — most dressed in pink and standing in the formation of the familiar ribbon that has become a symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month — that his sister was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.
He told them how she went through the difficult chemotherapy and radiation treatments as she traveled through a series of remissions and returns of the disease.
Eventually, the cancer spread to her head, and in 2006, Bateman's sister lost her fight. She was just 51 years old.
It was the seventh year Maxwell has held the event, an assembly to let students know how important it is for women to be tested early and often for the disease that is expected to claim the lives of 39,510 women in the United States this year, according to the Susan G. Komen organization.
More than 290,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 2,190 men will be diagnosed, while 410 cancer male breast cancer patients will die.
That is 125.7 women for every 100,000 people, and 1.2 men for every 100,000.
"Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow without normal control," according to the Susan G. Komen website.
"Between 50 and 75 percent of breast cancers begin in the ducts, 10 to 15 percent begin in the lobules and a few begin in other breast tissues."
The good news is breast cancer is no longer the killer it used to be. Early detection and better treatment options have lowered the number of deaths of those who have been diagnosed.
Still, it is staggering.
About one in every five women diagnosed will die.
But Maria Carrancho told the group you can survive.
She has been cancer free for 41⁄2 years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Carrancho told the students that it is vital women — especially those 50 or older — should have an annual mammogram.
Her cancer was detected through a mammogram at a relatively early stage, and she is living proof that treatment can beat the cancer back.
By the time Bateman's sister was diagnosed, it was already a Stage 4 cancer.
Carrancho told the students to tell their mothers, aunts and anyone else how important early detection is, and how critical having a mammogram can be.