Ten years ago, WNDU embarked on a journey with local women battling breast cancer.
With a team of experts and advocates, our stories of survival put WNDU at the front of breast cancer awareness efforts in our community.
Our interviews with five local women helped viewers understand the fears and hopes of battling breast cancer.
One of those women was Jeri Blanchard. NewsCenter 16 followed her through surgery as doctors removed a suspicious lump. That's when Jeri found out she had breast cancer.
“I'm glad it's out but why did it have to come in the first place. Disappointed? Yeah but we'll have to take the next step and treat it,” she said after her surgery nearly 10 years ago.
“All I remember is when it came out and it was a ‘Why me?’ type thing. It was one of the first things. I never thought of breast cancer. Until it happens and then you just think why me,” she says today.
With radiation and medication, Jeri fought it and won. “I don't dwell on the past. To me it's over with. I've taken care of it. I do check and I watch and make sure nothing else happens,” she says.
Knowing the genetic links to breast cancer, survivor Bettye Green wanted to make sure nothing happened to her daughter, Mona Lisa Scott.
“I'm hoping that she'll have much better genes. I don’t want her to go through what I went through,” Bettye said then, to which Mona Lisa replied, “I do check my breasts. She don't think I do but I do check my breasts.”
At the age of 28, Mona Lisa asked her doctor for an early mammogram and the results came back just fine. Ten years later, Mona still listens to her mother and knows the importance of regular exams and mammograms.
“I don't look at it as ‘Ok, I have something to stress about.’ She's makes it easy. Get checked and you'll be okay,” she says.
As for her mother, Bettye Green still works tirelessly as an advocate for women fighting cancer on both a local and national level.
“It's just a lot of things that I’m doing but the main thing is that it puts an African American woman at the breast cancer table. That’s what I’m the proudest of. I’m there to give our opinion about how we feel about things and then I also help the senior women. I help them a lot. I bring their voice to the table,” says Bettye.
Bettye is a strong voice with a message for all women. “This is a passion and women shouldn't die from breast cancer. Not when there are so many things out there. But women are still dying and that means we haven't reached those women yet. You have to keep on fighting.”
She goes on to say, “Women need to see and that's why I'm glad you're doing this follow up story. Women need to see that you can live with breast cancer. You'd be surprised at how many women don't realize that you can live with breast cancer and it's nice to see you're alive!”
After all these years, it's so nice to see these women not only alive but doing so well. It is just another triumphant chapter in their stories of survival.
Bettye sits on the executive board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation National Breast Cancer Coalition.
As the chairperson of the investigational review board in the county, Bettye reviews all cancer cases in St. Joseph County.