DUNLAP -- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One survivor is speaking out about the importance of early detection. Heidi Kruse just celebrated her one-year anniversary of being cancer free. She's hoping her story will get other women to take action for their health.
Heidi Kruse likes to laugh, play with her kids and enjoy time with her husband. But it wasn't long ago when her focus was on fighting for her life.
She said, "I always say it was the best experience I could have had from the worst thing that's ever happened to me."
At age 41, Kruse expected her routine mammogram to be just that. Especially since she had just received good reviews at her physical exam.
But that wasn't the case.
Kruse said, "It was determined that I had two spots on my right side, the left side was completely clear."
Then on Aug. 12, 2011, Doctors confirmed Kruse's worst fears. She recalls hearing her diagnosis. "It was just so bizarre and you know, in that moment, my husband said to him... you know you just changed our lives."
At home she and her husband had a ten, six, and two year old waiting. They knew life had to go on.
She said, "I wanted the whole breast removed. I didn't want any of that tissue in my body at all, I just wanted it gone."
Dr. Varun Mahajan says every women should have a mammogram by age 40... but not all of them do. He said, "Your chance of survival is three times better getting a mammogram, than it is wearing a seatbelt in the car.... and no one would tell you to not wear a seatbelt."
Kruse credits her mammogram for saving her life.
Now she's urging her friends and co-workers to make time for their health. "It's one of those things that people don't really like to do. Not that it's painful, it's a little uncomfortable but it's not a big deal. But you don't realize how that can save your life."
Kruse is hoping to help others who are battling breast cancer. She's participating in OSF St. Francis Medical Center's survivor mentionship program.