AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Thursday marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month. One in eight women will fight breast cancer during their lifetime, and breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women.
Doctors here in Augusta said this month is the perfect time for women to get tested, and they want to remind everyone just how important early detection is.
It was a normal day for Tamika Cook, until she felt a lump, which changed her life forever.
"I did not want to die," she said.
Tamika was just 27 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, something that came as a shock to her, and her doctor.
"She was really surprised. It took her back as well, because we only thought it was just a caffeine induced cyst," said Tamika.
But Tamika refused to let cancer win the fight, and now, she's a 14 year survivor.
"You can't let a diagnosis determine your life," she said. "It's up to you. You have to be a believer."
She said one of the things she advocates the most is self-testing.
"I am a huge believe in early detection saves lives. I can attest to it, and I do believe it saved my life," Tamika said.
Dr. Karen Panzitta is the Director of Breast Imaging Services at Georgia Regent's, and said the 3-D technology has been the hospital's biggest tool to help with screenings, and catching the cancer early.
"It let's us scroll through the breast tissue and can detect something that may be hiding behind other areas of normal breast tissue," Dr. Panzitta said. "We want to find breast cancer before you can feel it, before it gets to lymph nodes. And when it's found early, it's much easier to treat."
Tamika will be joining other survivors Friday morning as they hang pink ribbons across the hospital, and said October is now a bittersweet month for her, but it's also the reason she keeps fighting for a cure.
"I value life so much now. Before I think I was just living. Now I'm surviving," she said.
Georgia Regent's Medical Center is offering Saturday mammograms throughout October as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Mammograms will be available from 8 a.m. to 1 p-m at the Breast Health Center. You can call 706-721-9729 (XRAY) to set up an appointment.