After a routine mammogram, Helen Hildebrand's doctor told her she was in Stage 1 of breast cancer.

After a routine mammogram, Helen Hildebrand's doctor told her she was in Stage 1 of breast cancer.
"That was in 1981," she said. "It (mammogram) was the first one that I ever had. My gynecologist said he was recommending that everybody over 50 have a routine mammogram and that is what found mine."
The cancer was in her left breast.
October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  
Hildebrand said her mother had breast cancer and then a paternal aunt did as well.

"I didn't have to have any chemo or any radiation," said Hildebrand. "I had a mastectomy in the beginning, at that time. Then in 1986, it went to my bone, they couldn't get a good biopsy of it, so they put me on what they call estrogen chemotherapy which is a pill called tamoxifen. I am still on that pill and it worked, I have not had any problems with it."

Since her diagnosis, research has increased and Hildebrand is keeping up with the research.
"Everything I see an article about something new and we of course still have our breast cancer support group (Bosom Buddies), a lot of them have been under treatment so we find out from them what they are doing," she said. "I think that it is getting closer, they are trying new things all of the time. Some of them are working, and I think their recovery, the mound of recovery are more than they use to be."

The word cancer
Asked what were her thoughts when she heard the word, "you have cancer," Hildebrand said, "you are terrified when you first hear that and i don't think that you ever get over that. I think from then on and for the rest of our life, every time you have something wrong, you think, 'oh my goodness, is this another kind (of cancer) or is it coming back.' I don't think that you really ever lose that fear... I don't know if the fear is anything less, but I don't worry about it like I use to."

Support groups
Hildebrand is part of the local Bosom Buddies group in Newton County.
"I think they (support groups) are wonderful," she said. "They are beneficial. Of course we really enjoy each other and when we have a new person, when she sees how well we get along, how much we enjoy each other, I think she will open up and ask more questions, try to find out what we have been through and what she might expect."

Hildebrand encourages women to get their yearly mammogram.
"Also, they (doctors) are saying for them to diet and not smoke and drink moderately," she added.

Bosom Buddies meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at Mazzio's Pizza in Neosho.