Mammograms crucial in early detection of breast cancer

Cathy's mammogram revealed a small density that led to her cancer diagnosis.
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Cathy Ford knew 2012 would be a milestone year, but she had no way of predicting that this would be the year she'd face a battle that would threaten what she values most: time with friends and family.

It's a sixty-year milestone for Cathy Ford. Her co-workers from the Federal Courthouse arranged the luncheon in her honor. She's been on the job nearly 30 years and considers her staff, family.

"I love you all. I really do. Thank you so much," she told them at the luncheon.

Cathy says this year she has much to celebrate, especially the annual ritual she credits for saving her life.

"My message is get your yearly mammogram. It makes all the difference in the world. It's made a huge difference in my life and I cannot stress that enough for all of you," she said.

Her doctor, Thomas Schmidt, agrees.

"If you look right here inside this circle, there is a really subtle little density," he explained, pointing out the results of a screening.

Cathy's cancer is triple negative, one of the hardest types of breast cancer to treat.

"This was an aggressive breast cancer. This was a cancer that there was no way that could have been felt for a period of time and there are lots of things that can happen in that period of time. So early detection for her, I think, made a big difference," said Dr. Schmidt.

Cathy missed roughly a week at work since the discovery in March. She's had surgery and chemotherapy. She starts radiation at the end of the month. It's a journey that's all new.

"I have no history of breast cancer at all. I am the first, so it was a surprise," she said.

She's ditched the wigs that were itchy, and is comfortable wearing scarves until her hair comes back.

"The scarf and the loss of my hair is nothing really compared to the fact that I know that I will be okay," she said.

"Thank goodness we caught it early. I can't really say enough about that. I'm really glad I got my mammogram when I did," she said.

It was Cathy's 20th mammogram and the one that mattered most.

Saturday, Oct. 13th Checkup 13:

Women aged 40 and older are urged to register for a mammogram. Call 1-866-U-CHECK-13 or 1-866-824-3251 until 8:00 pm Saturday or register here. As extra incentive for registering, you'll get a free one-year subscription to Oprah magazine. When it stops coming, it's a reminder that a year is up, and it's time to re-schedule.