Kristi Neuharth knew something was wrong when she found a lump in her right breast. She knew it needed to be looked at, so she immediately scheduled a mammogram.

But at her appointment, her local doctor in Huron, S.D., told her the lump was just a cyst.

“I just thought it was nothing,” Neuharth said. “I just wrote it off.”

Over the next two years, she noticed the lump getting bigger. By April 2015, Neuharth said pain kept her up at night. She decided to see another local physician who said her breast was extremely infected. Neuharth remembers the doctor emphasized that she couldn't wait even a week to see a specialist. She was immediately referred to Sanford Heath in Sioux Falls.

Neuharth arrived for her first appointment on a Wednesday, and by Friday, she was shocked to hear the diagnosis.

She had stage 3 breast cancer. It had metastasized and started to spread to her lymph nodes.

When she first found the lump in 2013, Neuharth said she had been so proud of herself for scheduling the mammogram on her own, but she still went two years without the right diagnosis.

Once Neuharth began treatment at Sanford, everything changed. The week after her diagnosis, she started chemotherapy.

“I was very grateful things moved so fast,” she said. “I didn’t have time to sit back and worry about it.”

“You had to accept it. You had to move on.”

For several months, Neuharth drove 140 miles from her home in Wolsey to Sioux Falls for treatments. At first she made the trip every other week and then weekly for chemotherapy.

In September 2015, she had a double mastectomy followed by reconstruction. But her treatment wasn’t over yet.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, she started daily radiation treatments. She moved into the Sanford Cancer Center Apartments for five weeks so she could keep up with the demanding schedule.

Through her cancer journey, Neuharth said her husband supported her along the way. He accompanied her to nearly every chemo appointment, even though he was a farmer with plenty of work waiting at home.

“He’s been there every step of the way,” Neuharth said.

But Neuharth also gained a family in Sioux Falls. That family includes her oncologist, Dr. Michael Keppen, surgeon Dr. Paula Denevan, radiation oncologist Dr. Michele Lohr and plastic surgeon Dr. Heather Karu.

It also includes Butch Reinesch, who manages the apartments she stayed in, and countless others she met during her treatment. Everyone she’s encountered at Sanford, Neuharth said, has been an asset.

“I want them to know how appreciative I am,” Neuharth said. “I thank everyone so much for making a difficult time much easier.”

Your gift will bring hope and healing to so many. Help make a difference for breast cancer patients like Neuharth this October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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.