Two-time breast cancer survivor urges people to get screenings

Breast Cancer Survivor

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — A two-time cancer survivor is sharing her story this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Marti Simmons was first diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2000. Nearly exactly 20 years later, she received her second diagnosis last November.

The cancer returned in the same breast and this time, resulted in a mastectomy. “In the exact same breast. Who would have predicted that? Nobody,” she said Thursday.

What she also didn’t predict is how different this experience would be from her first diagnosis.

“By this time, they’d put in integrated medicine and it is a totally different experience because now you have that mind-body experience,” Simmons explained. “So, instead of just going in for your chemotherapy and then going home, it’s like now there’s somebody to talk to.”

A lot of times that somebody is Sanford Health Integrative Care Educator Andrea Paradis. “I help people manage their stress in a lot of different ways,” Paradis said.

Some of those ways include things like reflexology, guided meditations or simply sitting down for a chat. Paradis added, “Having that kind of support when not only is your physical body being cared for but also your mind and your emotions and your spirit.”

“Twenty years ago, I was afraid every time I came in here. Now, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m running over to Roger Maris,’” Simmonds said. “If you want my honest opinion, these women have saved my life.”

Something else that may have saved her life is early detection. She urges everyone to get regular screenings, even during the pandemic.

“I would’ve never found either of my cancers without a mammogram because they were so deep. If I was looking for a lump, I would be in stage 4 cancer, at least.”

This month serves as a reminder of just how important the screenings are.

“If it’s October, make an appointment,” Simmons urged. “Get your mammogram because it will save your life. It’s saved mine twice now.”

Simmons will continue her chemotherapy infusions into January.

All integrative care is free and open to all ages at Sanford Health. For more information, click here.

According to the American Cancer Society, women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Those 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or can continue yearly screening. To find out more, click here.

Learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month by clicking here.

Categories: Health, Local News