Geraldine Davis doesn’t think she has much of a breast cancer story to tell.
She never found a lump. She didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. As breast cancer goes, she said she had a pretty easy experience.
Davis was diagnosed and treated at the Georgia Cancer Center. In her 70s — and despite reading articles saying at her age she didn’t need them — she went for her yearly mammogram.
“They saw something on that mammogram that they wanted to further investigate. So they ended up doing an ultrasound on me and then they said it definitely looked like it was something that needed to be biopsied,” she said. “So they did a biopsy. And, of course, it came back that it was cancer cells. It was a really small lump.”
The news hit her hard. She had no family history of breast cancer and thought it couldn’t happen to her.
Davis also felt a little guilty. She underwent a lumpectomy, but because it was caught early, she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. She knows others weren’t so lucky.
A few months before, a dear friend had been diagnosed just a couple of months before and underwent “a lot of weeks” of chemotherapy and radiation.
“It just made me feel a little less — oh gosh, you know? I didn’t have to go through the radiation and chemo and here she is going through it,” Davis said.
Her doctor said staying positive is helpful for any cancer patient.
“Geraldine Davis is a rock star. She looks like she’s 50 and is in her 70s,” said Dr. Alicia Vinyard, a surgical oncologist at Augusta University Health. “She maintained a positive outlook from the very beginning and I think this is instrumental in having a good outcome.”
Vinyard said the purpose of mammograms is to find things we can’t feel at an early stage. When found early, these cancers can be treated with less interventions, such as a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy.
“Additionally, many women with smaller tumors without lymph node involvement can avoid chemotherapy,” she said.
Davis’ advice is to get your mammograms and trust your doctor.
“They’re going to give you the best advice about which direction you need to go,” she said. “Make sure you stay on top of things. You hear women complain that, ‘Oh, it hurts.’ It’s once a year, or once every six months. Suck it up. Just stay on top of things.”