Story by. Kelly Bell

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month pink ribbons are everywhere as reminders of the urgency of battling this disease. Dr. Christine Merritt and her staff at the Center for Breast Care of Longview Regional Medical Center recently hosted a “Dine for the Cure” event. Those in attendance learned of such life-saving resources as Longview Regional Tomosynthesis and 3D Mammography while taking the opportunity to schedule mammograms. The funds from the sale of masses of pink ribbons went to Pink Heals of Gregg County.
Breast Cancer survivor Stacy Jones was on hand to ram down the crucial nature of self-examination. In 2008, she underwent a breast reduction, but fatty tissues under her right nipple became swollen and stayed that way, prompting her to take a mammogram that revealed she did indeed have breast cancer, but it was in her left breast rather than her swollen right one. This disease refuses to be predictable.
“Get those mammograms,” Jones demanded. “It saved my life.”
She developed breast cancer at age 34 even though she had no family history of cancer. Also, it was invasive.
“I would have been gone if not for the mammogram,” she said.
The diagnosis hit her hard. She called it “devastating.” Still, Dr. Merritt made her treatment and curing as gentle and effective as possible.
“Dr. Merritt was an angel,” Jones said. “She took my hand and put it under her arm and we ran.”
Some of the terms Jones uses to describe Dr. Merritt are “kind-hearted,” “a great person and phenomenal doctor.”
Merritt explained that the diagnosis for Jones, a young woman with no family history of cancer, was unusual. Merritt recommends that women as young as 20 conduct regular breast exams and inform their doctors of any suspicious developments.
“It is important for a woman to know her body,” said Merritt. “Then, if something is wrong, she can tell.”