For Erin Green, breast cancer is personal.

It’s come for her and her family, but today she’s fighting back as a development officer for the Sanford Health Foundation. She works with initiatives like the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation to help provide patient care for western North Dakota and further research into finding cures.

Nine years ago, at age 35, Green fought her own battle against breast cancer and came out triumphant.

She was home alone on a Sunday night in March 2007 when she got the call revealing her diagnosis. But Green's reaction wasn’t one of fear. It was one of determination.

“I said, ‘Not today. Not ever. I knew immediately what I was going to do,’” Green said.

Green underwent a double mastectomy and eight rounds of chemotherapy. The disease had already spread to her lymph nodes and she had two different kinds of cancer in each breast.

The chemo devastated Green’s petite frame, and she had to be admitted into the hospital weekly for fluids. Red Popsicles still make her sick, reminding her of those red-colored chemo treatments.

For four months, Green also left her bald head uncovered. She was unable to wear wigs, hats or scarves because her toddler-aged girls couldn’t recognize her and would cry for their mom.

She remembers one day being in the grocery store with her then 3-year-old daughter, Tymmarie. A little boy looked at her and said, “That lady’s bald.” Tymmarie looked at the little boy and said, “My mom’s sick, but she's beautiful."

Green’s daughters knew more about breast cancer at a young age than most adults. Now 10 and 12 years old, both girls know their own risk for the disease.

“It’s not a fear,” Green said. “It’s a knowledge. They already have a sense of what it is to have breast cancer. But these aren’t road blocks. They’re opportunities to fight the disease and win.”

Since Green’s diagnosis, she and several family members have tested positive for a harmful mutation in the BRCA2 gene. This inherited mutation puts them at high risk for several types of cancers, including breast, ovarian and prostate.

“I needed to understand why I got cancer,” Green said.

Armed with this information, she and her family have taken preventative steps. Green chose to have a preventive hysterectomy after finishing her breast cancer treatment, and her younger sister, who also tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy.

Today, Green is pleased to see how drastically diagnosis and treatment methods have improved over just the past decade. In her case, a mammogram had missed her cancer completely. It was only because she insisted on a breast tissue biopsy–knowing the symptoms she was experiencing weren't right–that the tumors in both breasts were found. At the Edith Sanford Breast Center, patients now have access to 3D mammograms and improved screening and diagnostics that could have helped detect her cancer even sooner.

“That’s a big part of the reason I joined Sanford Health,” Green said. “The work Sanford is doing is amazing. It has raised the bar. We need to continue to bring those resources to our community.”

She also sees the work Sanford Research is doing to find cures for breast cancer.

“I would love to say 'thank you',” Green said. “The work Sanford is doing will save my daughters.”

Help cure breast cancer this October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so our daughters never have to face this devastating disease. Your support of the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation will help further research to find the cures. Faster.

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.


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