JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) For Christine Bradish, yearly mammograms started earlier than for most women. Her consistency over the years keeping on track with her health screenings is likely what saved her life.
“I really thought it was gonna be nothing. And they literally just say the words, you have cancer. It was devastating at the moment, extremely emotional,” says Bradish. But, she did not stay down long.
“It’s like the mom in me maybe, or whatever it is you do, you just kick into gear like, ‘I’ve gotta pull myself together. And I’ve gotta get through this.'”
Life looked much different after April of 2018. Bradish was diagnosed with breast cancer, invasive ductile carcinoma, at the age of 46.
“I had gone for my regular, yearly mammogram. We have some history in our family so I had been going since I was 24. I did not feel a lump, didn’t feel anything. They called me back and said we see something a little different, we want you to come back,” says Bradish.
She knew she had fibrocystic breast disease, but the cancer came out of the blue. She saw no signs, except small, sharp pains in her breast that she assumed were nothing at all.
“It would only happen once in a blue moon, I didn’t think anything of it. They asked me to show them where it was and it was the exact location of where my tumor was,” says Bradish. That is when she had to make a life-changing decision, that turned out to be quite simple.
“My husband and I just said you know what, life is too short, we aren’t gonna take any chances. So I did a double mastectomy and just said let’s move forward.”
Biopsies and MRIs followed. Then, came the results that the cancer had spread to surrounding lymph nodes; meaning the next step, was perhaps the hardest one.
“I had to suddenly change gears to go back into survival mode. That’s when we began chemotherapy,” Bradish recalls of June 2018. “That was definitely probably one of the most emotional days of the entire process. Diagnosis day and then they day you find out you have to have chemo. And then, the day you lose your hair.”
Bradish says she made it to the other side on faith, prayer, family and friends. She finished radiation in February of this year.
“You just kick into gear and life goes on and you still have to make dinner and you still have to clean the house and you do okay,” says Bradish.
She says her story shows first-hand the importance of staying on top of yearly mammograms and self exams; and that one thing you should never neglect is yourself.
“I think as moms or as women in general we just keep going. We go, go go. You have to be your own advocate. You cant miss those appointments, you would certainly make sure your spouse or children went to the doctor if something was wrong. You need to do the same thing,” says Bradish.
Christine unfortunately lost her brother to cancer about six years ago.
Now, after a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation; she is cancer free.
Her biggest piece of advice to those undergoing treatment is to connect with a support group that can love you and help you through the process.