Breast Cancer Survivor Urges Women to Get Regular Mammograms

It had been years since Charlotte Willett had her last mammogram. She always seemed to be too busy for an appointment, but after noticing a lump in her right breast and under her arm, she scheduled an appointment at BSA Harrington Breast Center.

On August 30, 2019, she received a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. That same day, her life changed forever.

Willett’s doctor informed her that, at the age of 57, she had stage 3 breast cancer. While she knew it would be a long road to recovery, she also knew that God was with her.

On September 9, 2019, Willett began chemotherapy treatments at BSA Harrington Cancer Center. During this time, she was determined to maintain her independence by continuing to work full-time and drive herself to treatments. “I did well with the chemotherapy treatments, but they did leave me feeling very tired and cold at times,” explained Willett. “I was able to drive myself to all but two of my treatments, which was important to me.”

Willett feels blessed to have had such a caring and overall fantastic team at BSA Harrington Cancer Center. “They really knew their stuff,” Willett said of her nurse navigator, Vietta Newton, and the rest of her team, including her medical oncologist, Dr. Brian Pruitt, radiation oncologist, Dr. Daniel Arsenault and surgeon, Dr. Michael Lary. “They were so kind and made my treatments so comfortable that I felt like I was at home.” 

After finishing chemotherapy, Willett underwent a partial mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. She was planning on spending three months at home recovering and undergoing radiation treatment, but never expected a global pandemic to begin six and a half weeks into her recovery.

The outbreak of COVID-19 meant Willett only left her house for doctor appointments and daily radiation treatments. Willett praises Dr. Arsenault and his amazing staff for making her experience so positive and credits time with her family for helping add joy to her life during such a difficult time. "I learned that family and work-family are true blessings from God and that struggles make us stronger," shared Willett. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciated all of the prayers, texts, fundraisers, phone calls, cards, flowers and food.”

Willett now only requires monthly lab work and regular doctor visits to ensure she is staying healthy. She urges women to get their annual mammogram and to encourage the women in their life to do so as well. “It is only by the grace of God that I am still here,” said Willett. “Please go get your mammogram. It could save your life!"

To schedule a mammogram at BSA Harrington Breast Center, visit mychart.bsahs.org or call 806-212-1905.