March 1, 2011
If watching her mother have a radical mastectomy, her father suffer from kidney cancer and her brother struggle with multiple myeloma taught Grace Bender anything, it was to pay attention to her health and ever-evolving medical technology.
“I read a lot about health issues because of my interest in helping people become their own health advocates. To help them, I have produced a product, mymedmanagerTM, a health care and medication organizer,” says Bender, age 62.
“Last October, I read that MRI breast scans were the best way to detect breast cancer especially in women with large, dense breasts, and a family history of breast cancer,” recalls Bender.
Knowing that she had dense breasts and a family history of breast cancer, Bender took action and had an MRI done. “The scan showed three small spots in different areas of one breast. My doctor then ordered a mammogram, which showed nothing, and an ultrasound, which showed only two spots. At that point my doctor ordered an MRI biopsy,” she says.
The biopsy showed that all three small spots were malignant and she was advised to have the entire breast removed. “With tumors at three, five and six o’clock, you can’t just do a lumpectomy,” she says. “But, because it was so early, they were able to do skin-sparing and nipple-sparing. And there was no need to do radiation or chemotherapy.”
Now, Bender does everything she can to reduce her risk of another fight with cancer, such as paying more attention to the food she eats. “But the biggest thing that I’m doing is not to be as stressed,” says Bender “I’ve always been a workaholic, so I’ve really made more time to appreciate my world and my friends and I exercise and mediate regularly.”
Bender is also helping to keep others cancer-free. She encourages women with dense breasts or family histories of breast cancer to talk to their doctors and to stay informed about the latest techniques and screening guidelines.
Bender understands that cancer prevention research and clinical trials are constantly helping to improve medicine. So it is important not only to take charge, but also to be informed about the benefits and limitations of medical techniques.