A mammogram and self-breast exam saved the lives of Linda and Jim Clauson of South Bend.
Jim and Linda Clauson have experienced a lot of things together in their 19 years of marriage but there's one thing they shared that's hard to imagine. They both had breast cancer.
Linda was the first to find out two years ago when a routine mammogram showed a questionable tumor. Another screening and biopsy confirmed it.
“I think when you hear that "C" word, it is very scary, but I just thought we have to do this one day at a time and we'll get through it,” says Linda.
Linda endured four surgeries in three months and Jim was by her side through it all.
“With the surgeries, it was always waiting to check the margin. It was almost a relief when she had the mastectomy to know it was gone and it won't come back ,” says Jim.
While Jim was relieved to know Linda was recovering, little did he know what was ahead. Just nine months after Linda’s surgery, Jim found a lump on his breast.
“I'm thankful to her for pushing me to go to the doctor. I still drug my feet a little bit,” Jim says.
Jim had the lump removed. When he returned to have his stitches taken out, he learned the news: he too had cancer.
“Jim came home and he told me. I was like [dumbfounded]” says Linda. “I was so much luckier. Jim had to go through chemo and I didn't have to, so then we had to face that, and that was tough, it was tough for him, but we made it.”
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. In men, it's extremely rare accounting for less than 1% of all male cancers. In 2005, about 406 men will die compared to over 40,000 women.
Jim and Linda are fortunate. After all they've been through, they're now cancer free.
Dr. John Oren is a close family friend of the Clausons. He's also their surgeon.
“I've probably seen three males with breast cancer in 20 years. With the wife had breast cancer too, it's just extremely unusual,” he says.
While they've worried about their environment, Linda says they can't find a link.
These days, the Clausons are raising money for breast cancer research.
In year's past, Linda and other family members have particpated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. To find out more, click here.