Katie Parker remembers one specific phone call, received on a Sunday evening in 2010, in vivid detail. She felt a chill as she heard the words on the other end of the line — “the cancer cells are there.”
Only 36 years old at the time, Katie got a free mammogram earlier in the week, offered by her employer in Rapid City. She had no risk factors for breast cancer, but she “loves free things,” she said with a small chuckle. After consulting with her doctor, they decided there was no harm in getting tested.
“I was just so stunned,” Katie said after receiving the news. “I wasn’t really upset, I was just like, ‘how is this happening?'”
The next morning, Katie was contacted by the Monument Health Cancer Care Institute (CCI). She said the staff there really helped her through difficult decisions on treatment options, scheduling appointments and urged her to be an active participant in her treatment.
“I was so grateful for that,” Katie said. “At the time you are thinking ‘oh my gosh, I have cancer’ and that’s all you can think about, but you have other important decisions to make.”
Katie was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer. She was treated with a partial mastectomy and six rounds of radiation administered by Daniel Petereit, M.D., at CCI. Thankfully, the treatments worked and after being diagnosed in May, Katie was cancer free by October.
In 2020 Katie celebrated the 10th anniversary of her final cancer treatment, by ringing the bell at CCI, smiling from ear to ear. “I am proof positive about why you need to talk to your doctor about screening guidelines, family history and what is best for you,” Katie said. “Get your screenings because if there is cancer, then you can get caught at an early stage.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mammograms are the best weapon we have against breast cancer, so talk to your doctor about scheduling your mammogram, and go to monument.health/weneedyou for more information.