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Early detection for breast cancer puts Tucson woman on road to recovery

TUCSON – After a mammogram and an ultrasound came back inconclusive Eleisa Banks said a biopsy finally led doctors to diagnose her with Stage 2 breast cancer. But that early detection has now put her on a road to recovery.

“Never in a million years would I have thought I would get breast cancer,” Banks said.

Eleisa Banks found out she had Stage 2 breast cancer on her 41st birthday. She is now among the 268,000 women, the American Cancer Society estimates will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. More than 41,000 will die but the numbers, while staggering, represent a continued drop in death rates since 1989. Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, with the American Cancer Society, said there are good reasons why.

“We’re doing a better job in terms of early detection with mammography and other approaches to finding breast cancer early”, said Lichtenfeld, “And our treatments have gotten much better.”

Eleisa Banks said she believes paying attention to what was going on in her body kept her diagnosis from being much worse.

“Had I not gone to my doctor and told him what was physically happening, that I could visually see,” Banks said. “My cancer could have spread even further and I could possibly be at a stage three or four.

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, says that body awareness includes regular self-exams at home.

“You might feel a mass that you didn’t feel before. Of that it’s tender, tender to touch.” said Shepherd. “Also if you have discharge from the nipple that’s concerning to you, that is when we want people to go to their doctor.”

Eleisa Banks said when it comes to preventing breast cancer there are no excuses not to get checked.

“If you know it’s time to do a mammogram, do not procrastinate, stop everything and go ahead and make that appointment with your provider and get tested”, said Banks, “It’s very important.”

The American Cancer Society recommends women with a family history of cancer should begin screening earlier but all women should now talk to their doctors about mammograms around age 40.

To donate to Eleisa Banks Go-Fund-Me account click here.

Sean Mooney

Sean Mooney is cohost of Tucson Today, Monday-Friday 5-7 am.

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