HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – On Wednesday’s Positively Pink segment on breast cancer, a woman of color shared her journey of finding a lump in her breast and having the courage to get screened.
Ericka Ward of Hartford told News 8 she was terrified after getting diagnosed with breast cancer. Now that she’s healthy she wants to inspire other women to get screened.
“I found a lump in my breast during a self-breast exam,” she said.
Ward has a busy life but always finds the time for self-breast exams.
One day she felt something new, and it felt very hard. At first, she was scared to do anything because she was afraid what would be found.
“I have a son and I started thinking about everything I want to see him fulfill and I started to think about my sister and she would be devastated,” Ward said.
A biopsy then revealed Ward had breast cancer.
Ericka was referred to breast surgeon Camelia Lawrence from Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.
“A woman who examines her breast knows the landscape of her breast the best and is more likely to see any abnormality and seek medical attention right away,” Lawrence said.
Ward had both breasts removed due to her family history of breast cancer.
“A mastectomy reduces a woman’s risk about 95 to 99 percent.
She also underwent chemotherapy and radiation.
Doctor Lawrence said some women are more susceptible to poor outcomes.
“Women of color are almost twice as likely to die of this disease. They’re being diagnosed at a younger age, more aggressive tumor biology and later more advanced stage,” Lawrence said
Ward took the right steps to give herself the best possible chances.
“I made sure I had my rides set up, I made sure I had support, I made sure I finished my treatment,” Ward said.
The current mammogram recommendations are to start getting the exam at age 40 but Dr. Lawrence said that is only for average risk.
A family history of breast cancer means you should get mammograms earlier, which is why it’s important to talk about it with your doctor.