Each year, more than 34,000 women across the Sioux Falls region are screened for breast cancer at Sanford Health.

For most, it’s another appointment crossed off the list. Peace of mind for another year. But for many others, it’s the beginning of a terrifying new journey.

In her mid-40s, with no family history of cancer, Kelli Koepsell never thought she’d face breast cancer. But in 2014, her annual mammogram detected three tumors.

"One woman in eight will get breast cancer. I knew the stat, but never once did I ever think it would be me,” she said.

After her doctor called to confirm her diagnosis, Kelli sat down to process the news. Her mind cycled through emotions of anger, disbelief and fear, before finally settling on determination.

"I am a mom of three girls; I need to be there for them. I was thinking, ‘I don't have time for this,’” she told us. “I decided I was going to get up and keep going. I wasn't going to let cancer win."

Kelli chose to have both breast removed, followed by reconstruction.

“It was hands down the most difficult, painful experience of my life. I was hurting so much on the inside and outside,” she said of the surgery and recovery.

Even today, more than a year later, the pain is still vivid in her mind. But Kelli is grateful to be a survivor. She is grateful for the care and compassion of her family, friends and also her oncology team at the Edith Sanford Breast Center.

"I can't tell you how good it felt to know that I was being taken care of by such a phenomenal medical team. Feeling comfortable and confident in their care let me focus on myself,” she said.

“I always felt like I was never going to be sick, like I was never going to need all that Sanford offers. But when the time came, I was certainly glad to be where I was. That was a blessing.”

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but together, we can ensure the highest standard of personalized breast care is right here when it’s needed. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, please join us in advancing research and care at Sanford with a gift to the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation.

For the 34,000 women who trust Edith Sanford with their breast health each year and for the 2,000 women, like Kelli, who will be diagnosed with breast cancer, your gift will make a difference.

Join us this October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and help all the men and women in our community facing this devastating disease.

When was your last mammogram?

Early detection saves lives. Schedule your mammogram today and encourage others to do the same. Breast screenings only take a few moments. A few moments may save a life.

Edith Sanford Breast Center Mission Statement: The mission of the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation is to unlock each woman’s genetic code, advance today’s prevention and treatment, and end breast cancer for future generations. We are committed to conducting groundbreaking research to find cures faster.

Please join us, and help create a tomorrow where no more of our loved ones are lost to this disease.