For Cole Camp resident Kay Phifer, a special mammogram ended up saving her life as her breast cancer was caught in an early enough stage that she was able to recover in less than a year.
Phifer was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015 following a few 3D mammograms and an ultrasound performed in November 2015 and a subsequent biopsy. Phifer was difficult to diagnose with cancer due to a benign condition she suffers from called fibroid cystic disease which causes several cysts to form within the breast tissue.
Phifer, 72, said she was given a favorable prognosis from the beginning because the mass was very small and it was discovered early. Following the her diagnosis, she had a lumpectomy performed in Lee’s Summit by Dr. Larry Rosen. She said she chose to have the surgery there, because she had relatives there and she could stay with them during her recovery. But it was her physician in Cole Camp, Dr. Jack Beltz, who works at the Bothwell Clinic in Cole Camp who said she needed to get the 3D mammogram.
“We caught it very early and lump had a very small mass with clear margins,” said Phifer. “It had not spread to my lymph nodes.”
Phifer’s lumpectomy was followed by 20 radiation treatments performed at the Susan O’Brien Fischer Cancer Center at Bothwell Regional Health Center.
“The radiation treatment started out as such a breeze, but it didn’t end that way.” said Phifer of her initial treatment. She endured five treatments per week for a solid month.
“The treatments are really draining and I just felt so tired,” Phifer said.
She said that after the radiation treatment, she must receive a mammogram every six months.
“The chances are very small of the cancer coming back,” Phifer said.
Despite the fatigue from the radiation, Phifer said she tried to think positively and to stay upbeat.
“When I first found out I had cancer, it really rocked my world,” she said. “After the initial shock, I realized that the cancer was not my fault and I tried to stay positive. You have to realized that you’re going to have good days and bad days and get frustrated, but you have to keep a positive attitude.”
Phifer credits the support that she received from her husband, her best friend and family members with helping her through the recovery process and , her doctors and the medical staff at BRHC. She encouraged all woman to get a 3D mammogram each year if possible. She said her experience convinced her cousin to continue receiving mammograms.
“The earlier you catch the disease, the greater chance of survival,” she said. “My cousin was going to stop getting mammograms, but after my experience, she now gets them regularly.”
She emphasized that staying positive is also vital in recovery.
“Every woman who goes through this will have their own story,” she said. The experience is different for everyone, so it’s important to stay upbeat. If we can help someone get through this, that’s what matters.”