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Self-Breast Exam and Mammogram Save Mother’s Life

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Self-Breast Exam and Mammogram Save Mother’s Life

In July 2021, Pilar Perez, a wife and mother of two from Montclair, felt a lump in her right breast during a regular self-check in the shower. Although she had experienced small lumps before and received negative results from her mammograms, Pilar immediately knew that something didn’t feel right this time.

“Trust your intuition,” she advises women. “You know your body and when something is off.”

Pilar saw her local provider who referred her to get a bilateral diagnostic mammogram and a right breast ultrasound. The results from her mammogram indicated she needed further testing, so Pilar was referred to The Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) to get an ultrasound-guided biopsy, which confirmed the diagnosis of infiltrating ductal carcinoma stage 1 breast cancer.

“I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer but I had friends who had gone through this, so while I was surprised with the results, I was glad I trusted my feeling to get tested,” said Pilar.

In August, Pilar underwent surgery, including a lumpectomy along with a biopsy of her lymph nodes.

“I am so grateful for my surgeon and everyone at PVHMC,” said Pilar. “The surgeon and nurses were really there for me and took extra time to explain everything. They made me feel really at peace going into surgery.”

After surgery, Pilar was anxiously awaiting the results of her tests to confirm whether she would need radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both.

“It was really difficult waiting, but I am glad the support team at PVHMC, especially the breast cancer nurse navigator Livia, was there to answer my questions and provide me with more information during that time,” Pilar shared.

Based on the results of a genomic test, Pilar only had to undergo radiation therapy, which she looks forward to completing so that she can get back to doing the things she loves including gardening, working out at her gym, and walking her dogs Koda and Fluffy.

“My biggest advice is to get support from family, friends, nurses, those who can help guide you during the process, all the appointments and paperwork you need to do, and help with any translation,” said Pilar, who is most comfortable speaking Spanish. “I didn’t realize that PVHMC has so many staff members who could help explain things to me in Spanish and I am so grateful they could help make things more comfortable during my treatment.”

Early detection of breast cancer is critical to better outcomes. To schedule your yearly mammogram, please call PVHMC’s scheduling line at (909) 469-9395. PVHMC offers the most advanced screening tools available including:

  • 3D mammography for all patients, regardless of their breast tissue density
  • SmartCurve™ breast stabilization system: clinically proven to deliver a more comfortable mammogram without compromising image quality, workflow or dose. The system detects more invasive cancers, and reduces false positives, pain and discomfort associated with flat paddle compression traditionally used for mammograms.