Carmel breast cancer survivor encourages routine checkups

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By Heather Collins

Freeman

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Carmel resident Carol Freeman is hoping her experience will help encourage woman of all ages to do regular breasts exams and get routine mammograms.

Freeman was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer last October at age 52 after a routine mammogram. She always made sure to take the time to follow the recommendations for breast cancer screenings. Triple negative breast cancer is an aggressive type of breast cancer that typically effects younger women under the age of 50 and makes up 15 percent of breast cancer diagnoses.

Freeman connected with Dr. Kandice Ludwig, medical director of IU Health North Breast Program, for her treatment.

“[Freeman] did a wonderful job of being very active in her care. She was her own best advocate,” Ludwig said. “She had a wonderful attitude the whole time.”

Ludwig

Freeman made a list of 50 silver linings from her journey with breast cancer. The list included not having to do her hair or discovering a new favorite short style once her hair began to grow back.

“My personal advice is to be sure you know your body, know your breasts, give yourself that exam every single month,” Freeman said. “Don’t waver from it. Once you turn 40, get that mammogram every year.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk of breast cancer begin having regular mammograms at age 40. Ludwig suggests that women who have a family history of breast cancer begin having mammograms 10 years earlier than when their youngest relative was diagnosed with breast cancer. Women are encouraged to begin self breast exams and clinical breast exams in their mid-twenties.

“I think one of the important things for young woman to realize is that just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you can’t get breast cancer,” Ludwig said.

Ludwig said one of the best ways to help raise awareness for breast cancer is to encourage friends and family to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. She said having a reminder from a friend or family member is what typically encourages a woman to go in and get a screening.

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