Por Ashley Byers
Hello, my name is Ashley Byers, I am 41 years old and earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is an honor to share my story on what once seemed like a curse and a nightmare, has now become my new purpose in life.
Like many, I juggle a lot of different activities at once. I am a wife, mother, work full time, take college classes, volunteer for multiple causes including Memorial Hermann’s In the Pink of Health Committee, and compete in long distance endurance sports. In October 2021, I was about to race my third IRONMAN triathlon. With too much on my plate, I put off scheduling my yearly mammogram. I postponed my exam to January 5, 2022, and a week later my doctor called me with abnormal results. I remember dismissing it, just as I have comically done when weighing myself at home thinking the scale was broken… the mammogram machine must have been broken too, I told myself. In denial, I waited to book an appointment to redo the test.
On February 2, 2022, after completing a second mammogram and an ultrasound, I was told that some suspicious spots needed to be biopsied. On February 8th a biopsy was performed and three days later I heard the news that most women fear, “you have breast cancer.”
My cancer was caught on a routine yearly mammogram. I had no symptoms and felt no lumps during self-exams prior. I have no immediate family history of breast cancer. My previous mammogram was normal. I am a pescatarian, follow mostly a plant-based diet, exercise often and prefer holistic alternative measures over standard medicine. Despite my efforts to live a healthy lifestyle, I became a temporary victim to breast cancer.
After diagnosis, I underwent more imaging, genetic testing, a second biopsy, and had discussions on possible treatment plans such as radiation and chemotherapy. My amazing team of doctors helped educate me on the best outcome for my case long term. This led me to the tough decision to have a double mastectomy. From my diagnosis to my first surgery was eight weeks and on April 8, 2022, my cancer was evicted! Thankfully, my lymph nodes were clear from cancer. I did not need chemo, radiation, or long-term hormone therapy because it was caught early. Today I am cancer free!
As I bloom into something new, currently in the reconstruction phase with another surgery on the horizon, my journey is not yet complete. But as I forge on, I am empowered to share my testimony, in hopes to save someone else.
If I would have not gotten my mammogram or waited longer to do it, things would potentially be much worse. Early detection saves lives. While getting a mammogram can be scary and an inconvenience, I beg you to not delay in putting your health as a priority. Do not be fearful of the test or even the results that follow. Be in fear of letting cancer live within you without your knowledge. Breast cancer can be beaten. I am living proof! Knowledge is power and for the rest of my life, you will hear my rally cry roar on… to schedule your mammogram today!
Thanks to Memorial Hermann In the Pink of Health, no one in Montgomery County should go without a 3D mammogram, regardless of insurance status. This state-of-the-art testing is lifesaving and provided at no cost for those in need. Thanks to our partnership with the Interfaith Community Clinic, women who are uninsured or underinsured may be eligible for a free mammogram at the Breast Care Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands. In the Pink of Health raises funds to provide free mammograms and to support breast and ovarian awareness initiatives. They also provide vital funding for the Canopy Cancer Survivorship Center to assist cancer survivors and their loved ones on their cancer journey with over 70 free programs a month.
Learn more about In the Pink of Health at: https://memorialhermann.org/foundation/events/pink-of-health.
Save the date for the 22nd Annual In the Pink of Health Luncheon on Friday, October 14th at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center.