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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Early detection key in reducing effects of breast cancer

Members of Zeta Tau Alpha demonstrate the proportion of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Photo by Dee Huggan
Members of Zeta Tau Alpha demonstrate the proportion of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Photo by Dee Huggan

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her life, and some college-aged students already have experienced coping with the disease.
Hannah Hanzell, agricultural science sophomore, said her mother was diagnosed with the disease when Hanzell was 14.
“Because it didn’t run in my family, doctors looked for a mutated gene,” Hanzell said. “They found out [my mom] carried the gene, which meant I had a 50 to 75 percent chance I was going to get it.”
Hanzell decided she wanted to have a double mastectomy, the complete removal of both breasts. This was the best way to ensure she wouldn’t get cancer. The surgery was set until Hanzell discovered something that felt wrong.
“It was two weeks before my surgery when I was in the shower and I noticed something didn’t feel right,” Hanzell said. “They found two tumors, one was not cancerous and one was. I became a patient of stage one breast cancer.”
Hanzell decided to have a mastectomy performed on her right breast instead of a lumpectomy, which would only remove the tumor, to reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
“My complete right side was gone, and that was hard,” Hanzell said. “Being a senior in high school, everyone has their self-esteem issues, like, ‘I’m not pretty, I’m fat.’ Mine was, ‘I don’t have a right boob.’”
Hanzell said she drew inspiration from her mom, who went through treatment while also carrying on day-to-day activities.
“When my mom went through it, she went to all events and she was going through chemo, and chemo is not easy to go through,” Hanzell said.
There is more than one way to check for breast cancer, said Pamela Golub, nurse practitioner in the women’s health clinic at Beutel. Mammograms are not the only practice.
“The best thing to do is to be aware of any changes,” Golub said. “You should be checking yourself every month, right after your menstrual cycle.”
Eighty-five percent of those diagnosed have no family history of breast cancer, Golub said.
However, the percentage of women diagnosed with breast cancer in their early twenties is low, and many students brush off the idea breast problems could occur this young, Golub said.
Renee McCoy, computer science sophomore, had the same mindset until last year when she found a lump while she was showering.
“I was showering when I hit it and something felt weird,” McCoy said. “First, I didn’t think it was a big deal and just ignored it until I noticed it got bigger.”
McCoy had a sonogram, and what the doctors thought to be a cyst was actually a tumor the size of a golf ball, so she underwent a lumpectomy.
“After my surgery, we found out the tumor was not cancerous,” McCoy said. “Since then, I have met more girls that have gone through this as well, it is more common than most people think.”
Hanzell said while most women don’t think this could happen to them, she said she is proof that self-check is always necessary.
“The doctors told me I was one out of one percent of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer this young,” Hanzell said. “If you think how big the world is, one percent is a lot of people.”

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