Strides against breast cancer - Mary Grasty

ROSLYN, Pa. - September 29, 2011

Every day this week, leading up to the walk, we will be introducing you to five women who are, indeed, making strides against the disease.

Of the five women we met, some are currently deep in their battle against the disease. Others have fought, won and are now survivors.

Today we hear from Mary Grasty, of Roslyn, Pa., a 15-year breast cancer survivor.

Back then, she was a young, single mother. She went to the doctor with breast pain, never thinking it could be cancer.

Neither did her doctor. Mary said she was told "You're too young."

However, tests showed that, at age 32, she had a condition called "lobular carcinoma in situ." It's a non-invasive breast cancer that starts the milk glands.

"He sends me to the outpatient center to do a lumpectomy. Seven days later, I had a mastectomy," Mary said.

After the surgery came months of chemotherapy, then 5 years of taking tamoxifen to keep the cancer away.

During that time, Mary realized being a survivor has its own medical concerns.

"Healthy living is a priority," she said.

Dr. Melanie Nordlinger says any woman nearing the end of breast cancer treatment should talk to her doctor about what to do in the years ahead.

Keeping your weight down and muscle tone up helps prevent a recurrence of breast cancer, and it helps protects the heart against the after-effects of chemotherapy or radiation.

Dr. Nordlinger also says regular health screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol checks are even more important for breast cancer survivors.

Those who take hormonal drugs also need to be checked for uterine cancer.

Managing stress is also vital. Mary managed her stress by helping others.

She believes she'll never be "done" with breast cancer, but she looks forward, not back.

"I hope it will never come back," Mary said. "But if it does, I will fight it."

You can join Sunday's walk simply by logging onto 2011 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.