October is breast cancer awareness month. News Center 23 is making a difference by educating the public. Our student partners studying radio and television at UTRGV also lending a hand. They report on a professor who beat the odds because of persistence.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh, ‘is this thing going to kill me?'” said Professor Maryann Escamilla.
On May 8, 2010, UTRGV English Professor Maryann Escamilla was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through four terrifying months of chemotherapy before finally beating the disease. Escamilla’s first symptoms were difficult to understand and even misread by doctors. Before her diagnosis, Escamilla felt as if her hands and feet were on fire. However, when she brought this up to her first oncologist, he doubted her and suggested she should go home.
“I did not go home. I went to a different oncologist in the same building and I’ve been with him for
this whole time.”
Diagnosis is a critical first step. The problem is that both men and women misunderstand symptoms associated with breast cancer. There are also many myths surrounding the disease that can cause people to go without treatment.
Dr. Terese Bevers the Medical Director for M.D. Anderson Cancer Prevention Center breaks down some of the myths.
“Men can’t get breast cancer. That is a myth. Men can get breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer you are likely to develop breast cancer yourself. Your risk is increased and it varies depending on the family history. If you wear antiperspirant it will cause breast cancer. That has not been shown to be the case.”
A diagnosis of breast cancer is scary and difficult to deal with. Today there are treatments and methods for the disease. Professor Escamilla’s advice for someone you know with breast cancer is:
“Just be there. If they just want to sit and cry, let them. Because the worst thing somebody ever
characterized me as was brave. You don’t allow them to show the real feelings that they’re feeling.”
Note: This news report does not present a complete list of symptoms or methods for diagnosis. Please consult a physician for further information.
Doctors suggest women do a self-breast exam at least once a month. Yearly mammograms should be done once a year for women age 40 and over. All women should see a gynecologist at least once a year. Men should consult with their physician.