2013 survivor profile: Clare Toohey
Clare Toohey started having mammograms at the age of 35. Clare had lost her mother, aunt and father to various forms of cancer, and so she was determined to be proactive.
In March 2004, at age 48, Clare found a lump while doing a self breast exam. She called her gynecologist immediately and was sent to a surgeon. After a sonogram and needle biopsy, the surgeon told her not to worry. But Clare wasn't convinced.
"I knew there was something there, and I wanted to find out what it was," she says. When Clare got a second opinion, she was told she had a type of breast cancer called lobular carcinoma.
"It's so important to get a second opinion when you feel something isn't right," she says. "If I hadn't followed up, I might not be here today."
Clare was offered different treatment options, but after talking to many breast cancer survivors, she opted to have a double mastectomy.
"I was facing a decision about whether to have a lumpectomy, radiation, or full mastectomy," she recalls. "I talked to many people, and they were so generous in sharing their stories with me. I gained a lot of strength and knowledge from them."
Clare has faced some recurrences, including a form of lung cancer, but she says, "Today, I'm feeling very good and very positive!" Her faith in God and the support of her friends and family made all the difference. "I was so moved at how people from my church, PTA and even friends of friends brought dinner, sent cards and called. I feel truly blessed."