To emphasize that breast cancer can strike anyone, is featuring “Her Story,” a series of first-person tales from players telling the stories of loved ones who have been affected by the disease, throughout Breast Health Awareness Week. Fans who have also coped with breast cancer can post stories about themselves or those close to them on the site’s Fan Voice section. To share your experiences, please click here.

Her Story: Helen Darling, San Antonio Silver Stars

In an effort to help raise awareness of early detection,
Helen Darling documented her annual mammogram screening.
Photos | Video | More

Darling poses for a photo with a breast cancer survivor and her family and hospital staff at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Westover Hills.

Breast cancer is on the rise. The National Cancer Institute estimates 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in women and 40,170 breast-cancer related deaths in women for 2009. Nearly 124 of every 100,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a disease that has touched my life through my family as well.

I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I remember not being able to hug my mother. She had breast cancer in both breasts. The memory is very vague but I also remember my mom was always in her room praying. It wasn’t until my aunt, 38-years-old at the time (my mom’s youngest sister), was diagnosed with breast cancer that my mom told me she also had cancer. My aunt did not catch the disease in enough time. It had spread to her lungs and throughout her body. She tried chemo but it didn’t work. Cancer took her life at the age of 39. She left behind four children, three under the age of 11. I also lost a great friend to breast cancer.

That’s when I realized early detection is so important. A month after my aunt died I received my first mammogram. I hadn’t had another one until recently. I am considered high risk because my mom and aunt both had breast cancer, and I have been advised to get a mammogram yearly with an additional MRI. Being considered high risk has not put fear in my life at all. Whatever happens, I have faith in God that he will give me the strength to handle it all. However, that will not stop me from getting my yearly mammograms and spreading the word about early detection. I encourage all women to take 15 minutes to get checked out.

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