Why should you get a mammography? It saved my life; it could save yours.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — I’m one of the lucky ones.

I realized that during six weeks of radiation treatment at Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, N.J.

One day early in the process, I was sitting in the radiation waiting room filled with braless women of various ages clad in red and white linen gowns, all waiting to be called for their treatment.

“What are you doing here? You look too young to have cancer — and you have hair,” said a cheerful 60-something-year-old woman with very short gray hair, dangling gold earrings and red lipstick.

I looked around, and she was right. A lot of the women had scarves wrapped around their heads, having lost their locks from chemotherapy.

“I was lucky,” I said to the room of women all sharing one painfully common bond. “I took my routine mammography, and they caught it early — it was less than two centimeters, and it didn’t spread.”

Stages of cancer, I quickly learned, are just another way of saying how big the cancer is. Mine was small — Stage 1.

The woman said her cancer had already reached Stage 3 when it showed up on her yearly mammogram. Another woman I met, who came from Arizona for her treatment, was just 32 and had Stage 4 cancer in both breasts.
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