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The Life-Saving Power of Early Detection: Megan’s Story

Megan Dew was well aware of the importance of mammograms and early detection for breast cancer. Her grandmother passed away from breast cancer, and her mother is a breast cancer survivor. Armed with the knowledge of her family’s health history, Megan began getting mammograms at the age of 34 based on her ob-gyn’s recommendation.

“When I went in to have my annual mammogram at age 38, I was expecting to get an ‘all-clear’ report and instructions to come back around the same time next year,” explains the wife and mother of two boys, ages 13 and 9. “Instead, my radiologist said he’d found a spot on my left breast that was concerning, and I needed to have a biopsy. When I heard those words, my heart sank, and my mind started racing. What if it was cancer?”

A Shocking Diagnosis

A few days after the procedure, Megan received a call from the radiologist who said the tumor was, indeed, cancerous. Fortunately, it had been caught early, measuring just one centimeter in diameter. Megan says she couldn’t believe the news.

“I was terrified; my first thought was, is this really happening? Calling my husband to tell him I had breast cancer was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But he is my biggest cheerleader and assured me we would get through this together.”

The Reassuring Support of the WakeMed Team

Megan celebrating her last day of radiation

The following day, Megan reached out to Lori Lilley, MD, (WakeMed General Surgery), a well-respected breast surgeon with more than 30 years of surgical experience. She made an appointment with Dr. Lilley to discuss her treatment options.

“I had lots of questions prior to my surgery, and Dr. Lilley and her staff answered them all with kindness and compassion,” Megan says. “They provided me with a thorough understanding of what would happen before, during and after the surgery to remove the tumor, and they helped put me at ease about the procedure.”

With the support of her family and friends, Megan underwent three weeks of radiation, followed by physical therapy to prevent lymphedema. She’s thankful that additional test results showed it was not necessary for her to have chemotherapy treatments. However, because her tumor had very high levels of estrogen, Megan opted to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, which immediately put her into menopause. Amantia Kennedy, MD (WakeMed Obstetrics & Gynecology) performed the successful surgery.

Taking Proactive Steps

Megan says she believes having a positive mindset and taking a proactive approach to her health has been critical to her recovery and ongoing wellness. She now exercises five days a week, sticks to a healthy diet, and enjoys reading and spending time outdoors with her family. She also remains committed to getting her regular mammograms and encourages other women to do so as well — including her identical twin sister and her older sister.

“Because of our family history, my sisters also began having mammograms earlier than the recommended age of 40. My twin sister is especially diligent about her self-care because she’s at a higher risk for cancer,” says Megan.

While Megan acknowledges that mammograms are not a pleasant experience, she says she will always be grateful that early detection helped her beat cancer.

“I’m passionate about getting that message out to other women, and if my story can motivate just one person to stop procrastinating and to get that mammogram, then I’m happy to share it. I feel good, I’m enjoying my life with my husband and my precious children, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”