Breat Cancer Awareness Month<BR>A survivor's advice: Look out for No. 1

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and breast cancer survivor Mary Ellen Petersen is preaching the gospel of survival: get a mammogram and do breast exams.

Twenty-five years ago Peterson found a lump in her left breast that turned out to be cancerous.

After undergoing a mastectomy she was cancer-free for 23 years.

However, after moving to Kingman in 1993, Petersen developed cancer in her right breast.

She was operated on again, undergoing a modified radical mastectomy.

She was later diagnosed with colon cancer and then doctors found cancer behind her lungs, which is now in remission, she said.

Despite all she has gone through Petersen is upbeat and positive.

"I look forward to everything now," she said.

"When I am in treatment I live one minute to the next and try not to panic.

It is a scary thing.

Cancer is a scary thing for all women."

But she is happy to be alive and said finding a lump in a breast is not a death sentence.

"I like to do everything," she said.

"I live life to the fullest.

If you let cancer rule you, you are lost."

Petersen said her advice to any woman, or man, is to pay attention to any "lumps, dimple or leakage" in the breast area and to have a doctor check it out right away.

"You have to take care of No.

1 - yourself," Owens said.

"There is no excuse not to get yourself checked.

No one needs something foreign in your body.

And don't cancel the doctor's appointment because you are scarred to go.

Just try to stay calm and do it."

Petersen said there are a lot more treatment options now than there were 20 years ago.

An estimated 211,300 invasive cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States during 2003, according to the Susan G.

Komen Breast Foundation.

An estimated 39,800 women will die from the disease.

It is also estimated that 1,300 men will be diagnosed and 400 will die of breast cancer this year, according to the foundation.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women ages 40 to 59.

The Komen Foundation and its affiliate network have raised nearly $600 million for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

This fall, the Susan G.

Komen Breast Cancer Foundation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Komen Race for the Cure Series, the foundation's signature awareness and fund-raising program.

The first event of its kind, the Komen Race for the Cure was created in 1983 by Nancy Brinker, who established the Komen Foundation to honor the memory of her sister, Susan G.

Komen, who died from breast cancer at the age of 36.

Funds raised during the Komen races support the foundation's mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.

The foundation recommends monthly breast self-examination beginning at age 20, clinical breast examination at least every three years beginning at age 20 and annually after age 40 and annual screening by mammography beginning at 40.

Mammography screening remains the single most effective method to detect breast cancer early, the American Cancer Society says.

The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman grows older.

About 80 percent of breast cancer occurs in women age 50 and older.

The risk is especially high for women age 60 and older.

New technology is making mammograms more accurate.

Digital mammograms are easier to read, leading to fewer mistakes and less room for misinterpretation of the information for diagnostic purposes, but the technology is also more expensive.

Kingman Regional Medical Center purchased this new diagnostic tool as part of a $3.5 million package of new equipment for the hospital.

However, the digital mammogram can be used only on woman with a breast size of C or smaller.

The Susan G.

Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has a national breast care helpline, (800) 462-9273).