Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Breast cancer survivor encouraging women to get their annual mammograms

Woman prepares for breast exam, mammogram at doctor's office or hospital.

Photo: fstop123 / E+ / Getty Images

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Trident Medical Center is hosting an event to encourage women to get their yearly mammograms and one breast cancer survivor is emphasizing the importance of these scans.

Samantha Parent is a 33-year-old nurse at Trident Health and a mom of three boys. When she wasn’t working the night shift, she was going to soccer games and enjoying life with her husband and kids. She had big plans of training and growing as a nurse, but her life was quickly changed in just a moment.

In October, with all the pink ribbons and the buzz about breast cancer awareness, Parent elected just to do a self-examination, even though she didn’t have any symptoms. This self-exam changed her life, but it also saved it.

As a nurse, Parent knew something was not right. She thought she had felt a mass. This is when she decided to go to the doctor and found out she was right. She had stage four breast cancer. Everything moved very quickly after that. She said when she got the diagnosis, her mind just ran wild.

“Because I’m a caregiver, I had already started in thinking, ‘Okay, well how am I going to tell everybody else? And how is this going to impact everybody else? And what’s going to happen to my boys if they’re stuck with just their father for the rest of their lives?’” she said. “Your brain just goes like all these different places. I ended up having a panic attack working nights that weekend, just because I was just so scared because you know, you just don’t know.”

By the time Parent was able to get her mammogram, her cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes. She had a very aggressive cancer, and if she had caught it any later, it would have only progressed further.

According to the American Cancer Society, each year just a little under 45,000 women will die from breast cancer; and, each year, 300,000 new cases will be diagnosed. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women and, according to the American Cancer Society. These rates are so high because the cancer isn’t diagnosed until the later stages. Like Parent, many people with breast cancer do not have many symptoms.

In hopes of combating some of these statistics, Trident Health is hosting “Mammo Catch Up!” events. The first event took place Monday at the Trident Breast Center in Charleston. The next event will take place Wednesday at the Summerville Breast Center.

“Doing events like this is important because, for instance, after seeing my doctor and I needed to get a mammogram, I actually had to wait over a month. So, it’s important that we have that available. Granted, things worked out okay,” Parent said. “It ended up being in my nodes by the time and I just found it in October, it was barely a lump. And so, by the time we actually got testing on it, it already moved to my nodes. If we had maybe been able to get me in to get a mammogram prior to that, we would have caught it sooner and we could have started chemo sooner. I could have possibly not necessarily had node involvement.”

Parent said she encourages everyone to keep up with their yearly scans and checkups. She said even if it isn’t in your family history, or you are not yet at the age for yearly mammograms, you should still be doing self-examinations periodically.

“Understand you are important. Your care is important, and certainly, we want our people to take care of you,” she said.

Mammogram appointments can be made at any time at any Trident location by clicking here or calling (877) 357-0156.

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