When Onika Day went for her first mammogram at age 41, she was terrified. After a routine breast exam at her local clinic, doctors had discovered a few lumps in her breasts and instructed her to schedule an appointment for a screening.
After the procedure, her anxiety escalated when she got a phone call at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, asking her to come back to the doctor’s office on Monday. Day’s godmother and several friends had been diagnosed with breast cancer — and she feared the worst. “I gave myself a death sentence on Friday night,” she says. “It was very, very scary.”
That Monday, Day learned she’d been diagnosed with stage zero cancer. “You don’t hear stages, you just hear cancer,” she says. “And you start freaking out.” According to Day, doctors said she had a radial scar, which can often look like breast cancer on a mammogram, and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) — abnormal cell growth that can sometimes lead to breast cancer later on. “So just to make sure, I had to go through the biopsy,” Day says.
Though she now has a clean bill of health, she relied on her godmother for support — and learned that getting through a health scare is often more of a mental challenge than physical. “By working out and eating right, it helps you enjoy life more, [and be] in a better state that if any challenges come up you can handle them,” Day, a DailyBurn 365 participant, says.
Now, she hopes other women will learn from her story — and make time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Consult with your physician about when you should get screened, as recommendations can vary. “The main thing is just go get checked out. As women, we nurture everyone else; it’s time to nurture ourselves,” she says. “Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for any support you need.”
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