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Asking for mammogram proves fateful for young breast cancer survivor

12 WOMEN WINNING THE FIGHT • BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH SERIES

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 6:45 PM
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 5:46 PM
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Jennifer Odom knew something was wrong when she started lactating out of both breasts in August 2012.

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Jennifer Odom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33 and is being checked for cervical cancer after a recent PET scan.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Jennifer Odom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 33 and is being checked for cervical cancer after a recent PET scan.

She wasn’t pregnant – her tubes had been tied since she was 25.

“You just don’t lactate if you’re not pregnant,” she said.

Her doctor ran some tests, which indicated a pituitary tumor. She convinced her doctors to do a mammogram, and it came back with a suspicious area. She had a biopsy the next day that confirmed cancer.

“It was very, very scary,” she said. “When you hear that word cancer, my first thought was ‘Oh my God. Who’s going to raise my kids? Because they don’t see their dad.”

She had a lumpectomy and had her lymph nodes removed, and then underwent 28 radiation treatments.

Because her cancer was 98 percent estrogen-driven, she also had to have her ovaries removed.

“I was slammed into surgical menopause at the age of 33,” she said.

She kept working and tried to keep her daily routine as close to normal as possible for herself as well as her family.

Now, because a PET scan shows a prominent cervix, she is being checked for cervical cancer. She advises everyone to be their own advocate where their health is concerned.

“We know our bodies better than the doctor does,” she said. “He doesn’t know us on a regular basis. We know when something’s wrong.”

UPCOMING EVENTS

OCT. 16

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Seminar – Options for Breast Reconstruction: 7 p.m.; The Lydia Project; 1369 Interstate Parkway, Augusta; Dr. Troy Austin, Board-Certified plastic surgeon; free seminar; (706) 434-8683.

OCT. 17

Lydia Workday: 9 a.m. - noon; Warren Baptist Church; 3203 Washington Road; join friends working with fabric for totes for women coping with cancer; (706) 860-1586.

ABOUT JENNIFER ODOM

AGE: 34

HOMETOWN: Evans

FAMILY: Husband, Jamie Odom; children Caitlyn Craig, 11, and Adam Craig, 8; stepchildren Alexis Odom, 13, and Reece Odom, 7

OCCUPATION: Contract Management, Blue Cross/Blue Shield

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: Aug. 27, 2012 – lumpectomy, radiation,

HER ADVICE: “I think it’s okay to get upset. I think it’s okay to cry. I think it’s okay to talk about it. ... I would find somebody to talk to. Reach out to other women who have gone through it. If you feel that something is wrong, push for it with your doctor.”


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