GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's estimated that one out of eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. But thanks to education, in part due to Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, more women than ever before are surviving. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. That's worth celebrating and that's exactly what they did at Garden Park Medical Center this month.
It's not uncommon to see a lot of pink during the month of October, and this year is no exception. Doctors, nurses, and staff at Garden Park, are wearing a lot of pink, and recognizing not only breast cancer awareness month, but one of their own survivors. Leslie Catchot from Gulfport reached her five year milestone this month.
"I feel wonderful. I feel like I've accomplished a lot to reach this five year mark," Catchot said.
Five years ago, Catchot had a mammogram and ultrasound after she found a lump during a self exam. She was only 37.
"This was all in a matter of days and I got the call that I had not one, not two, but three types of breast cancer. So within a week, I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction."
But thanks to her awareness and quick follow up, she's cancer free after an emotional five year journey.
"My daughter asked all the questions like, 'Who is going to be at my wedding? Who will be there when I raise my own kids?' It was very emotional. But today I think about the five years and I've had my daily life and tried to help other breast cancer patients."
General surgeon Dr. Larry Killebrew says early detection is the key.
"The earlier we find it, the happier we are," Killebrew said.
He has been a surgeon for 35 years, and has seen tremendous advances in treatments.
"Early detection gives us more options than ever. We're able to offer more minimally invasive treatments."
Leslie Catchot is just happy to be a five year survivor, and she encourages other women to know their bodies, get regular checkups, and see their doctor quickly if they have any concerns.
"Anything you're worried about; go to you doctor, don't wait."