A few years back, right after she had turned 36 years old, Jaylene Low noticed another weird lump in her breast. She was breastfeeding at the time. She figured it was a clogged milk duct. This had happened before.
She did all the things she was supposed to do. She massaged it. She put cabbage on it. Nothing worked.
So she saw her lactation consultant.
That’s not a clogged duct, the consultant said. Go see a doctor.
Many horrible things followed. A cancer diagnosis. Alternative treatment that didn’t work. A bilateral mastectomy. Chemotherapy. Reconstructive surgery. A recovery. Then, in July 2012, another diagnosis. Removal of her lymph nodes. More chemotherapy. Radiation.
“Lord knows I wasn’t expecting it,” she said Wednesday at an event for two local anti-cancer charities.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Review-Journal printed its editions Wednesday on pink newsprint in recognition of October as breast cancer awareness month. The proceeds from retail sales, as well as the money raised at Wednesday’s Pink Paper Day Breakfast event, will go to Susan G. Komen of Southern Nevada and the American Cancer Society.
“The energy in the room is phenomenal,” said Bob Brown, the newspaper’s publisher. “We’re going to do it again next year, and it’ll be twice as big.”
The event, held at the Suncoast hotel-casino, featured a fashion show starring breast cancer survivors, including Low, and performances from Las Vegas entertainers Australian Bee Gees, Jeff Civillico and Brendan Paul, performing as Elvis. It was the first year the newspaper held the event.
Brown said the paper raised more than $10,000, but the exact figure was unavailable.
Low, who is 39 now, said she feels OK. She got to see her baby boy turn 5 recently. She hopes she can watch him grow up.
She wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t found that lump by accident.
She doesn’t want that to happen to anyone else. So she’s getting involved. She started on Wednesday by participating in the breakfast event.
She knows the whole “awareness” thing has become a cliche. But it really does matter. What if there’s someone else out there, just like her? What if, by getting the word out, she can help that someone stay alive?
That’s the point of the fundraiser, in essence, to help people stay alive. The approach has worked; death rates for breast cancer, like most cancers, have dropped dramatically in the last three decades.
Lydia Reed, 50, another survivor who participated, said an early mammogram saved her life. “I would be dead,” she said.
She has four kids, ages 11 to 17. Back in 2006, when she was 42, she went in for her first mammogram. It was supposed to be routine.
But they found a dark mass. The shadows were cancer. She underwent treatment and was fine for a while. But it came back last year with a vengeance. She is going through treatment now.
“We don’t really know” whether it’ll work this time.
But she’s fighting it as hard as she can. She’s also encouraging others to get mammograms, just to be sure.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0307.
October is breast cancer awareness month. For more coverage, click here.