DPH’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Helps Georgia Resident Beat Breast Cancer

October 29, 2015

Breast cancer affects more than 200,000 women in the U.S. each year. Norma Mitchell never thought she would be one of those women.

“It was Nov. 17, 2011 and I was waiting for the doctor to officially tell me that it was breast cancer,” said Mitchell. “But while I was sitting there in the waiting room, I already knew.”

Without a history of breast cancer in the family, and being a healthy 56-year-old woman, she didn’t have any health concerns or even thought about breast cancer.

This all changed the day she found two lumps in her breast. It was in mid-October and Norma noticed the lumps after showering.

“I had just had a mammogram five months prior to finding the lumps, and so I didn’t even want to go to the clinic,” said Mitchell.

Reluctantly, she called Maggie King, a nurse at the Hahira Health Clinic, a satellite of the Lowndes County Health Department. Mitchell had been going to the health clinic for years and always had her mammograms and pap smears completed there through the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP). 

“When I called Maggie she said, ‘Norma, I’m just about to leave, I just took my last patient for the day,’ but I think she could hear the fear in my voice so she told me to come to the office,” Mitchell said.

King proceeded to examine Mitchell and conducted another mammogram to verify her findings. Mitchell was sent to have a biopsy which later confirmed her breast cancer diagnosis.

Mitchell endured chemotherapy, radiation and had a mastectomy throughout her breast cancer journey. Although, no one else in her family had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew this would be her best option to prevent the cancer from returning.

After surviving breast cancer, Mitchell said that having a positive attitude throughout her treatment is what helped her stay motivated. 

“I realized how blessed I was,” said Mitchell, “I started putting my mind to focus on other people.”

When fighting breast cancer, Mitchell recommends that patients are fully confident in their health care teams and recommended treatment plans. 

With the support of BCCP, Mitchell was able to fight breast cancer with a strong support system of professionals all invested in her return to health – another recommendation she wants to impart to other women in Georgia. 

“I would recommend BCCP to anyone,” said Mitchell. “I couldn’t afford to get another mammogram after having one just five months prior to finding the lumps. They worked with me and did everything they could to help. They saved my life.”

BCCP helps women just like Norma Mitchell access breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic services and referrals to treatment services every day. For the past 20 years, DPH’s program has been saving the lives of women fighting breast cancer, and helping to prevent cancer through health education resources such as its Breast Cancer Gene Screen website that evaluates a patient’s hereditary breast cancer risks.

To learn more about getting help through BCCP, visit DPH online at www.dph.georgia.gov/BCCP

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