Lowcountry breast cancer survivors share their stories

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer for white, black and Asian women, according to the Center for Disease Control.

To raise awareness of the disease, a local hospital has turned pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two employees of the hospital are sharing their survival stories.

"I'm a seven-year survivor," said Trident Medical Center registered nurse Barbara Righter. "If I had not gotten my mammogram, maybe next time it would have been a palpable mass. I could be dead now."

Thankfully, Righter is breast cancer-free now, but she remembers when she was first diagnosed.

"It was really scary," she said. "You really do go through denial thinking it could never happening to me, to you. There was no breast cancer in my family. I breast fed both of my children."

She did regular self-exams, but she found out the news after her annual mammogram. Now, she has helped organize a month-long awareness event. There is a "Pink Parlor" with pink ribbons and a computer set up with breast health information at the hospital. She also plans to wear a pink streak in her hair all month long.

"The whole purpose of it is for me to tell you the importance of breast awareness, breast health," Righter said.

Karen Blackwell also wants to remind people of the importance of monthly self-exams and the annual mammogram. She has survived two separate battles with the disease.

"Just because you're told 100 percent, we have gotten all the cancer out, there are different forms of cancer. This one was different from my initial cancer," Blackwell said.

Another part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the "Pink Glove Project." Healthcare workers across the nation wear these gloves to promote breast health and raise money so women can get free mammograms.

"It just builds me up and brings joy to my heart. It brings joy to my heart. It makes me rejoice to know this is the type of place I work in," Blackwell said.

Righter says there are some "Think Pink" fundraising events at Trident planned throughout the month. They will donate money raised to the Komen for the Cure Lowcountry Chapter. The Race for the Cure will take place on October 16 at the Daniel Island Tennis Center.

The CDC says the most recent statistics show that more than 190,000 women were diagnosed and more than 40,000 women died from breast cancer in 2006. It is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women.

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