NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Barbie Rogers was a healthy mother of two. She exercised, ate well and was living what she calls "the good life."
A trip to her gynecologist changed her world.
"She saved my life," Rogers said.
Rogers' gynecologist recommended that she have a mammogram.
"She said you're 40 years old and I think it's time you go ahead and get a mammogram and just get like a baseline," Rogers recalled.
Rogers' mammogram showed something suspicious so her doctor called for a biopsy.
"When she looked at it and said, 'just come back tomorrow,' I just knew something was wrong," Rogers said.
It turns out Rogers had breast cancer.
The diagnosis was shocking and initially, unbelievable.
"Not me," she recalled. "You know, I was running, 40, got the world, I thought, just where I wanted it and that was the reality. I had cancer."
Rogers had chemotherapy and radiation to remove the lump that was the size of a silver dollar. She was close to a Stage III breast cancer.
Her doctor was clear that prolonging the surgery would not be good.
"Because of my age and cell turnover is so rapid—you know your hair and your nails—she said we have to hurry up and get this out," Rogers remembers.
The American Cancer Society says women should have the choice to get a mammogram at 40, but the organization does not recommend yearly screenings until after 45. The ACS says women over 55 can reduce the screenings to every other year.
Dr. Lindsey Prochaska, an oncologist and breast cancer specialist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center thinks women should start getting mammograms before the ACS's recommendations, starting at 40. If there is a family history, she says women could be screened before 40.
We usually say start getting them about 10 years prior to the family member that was diagnosed," Prochaska explained. "If your family member got diagnosed at age 45, you start at 35."
Rogers had no family history so she's forever grateful to her doctor she says saved her life.
"Ok. If I did 50, I wouldn't be sitting here," she said. "I mean I already had what I had at 40. I would never have made a decade more of life. Never."