EUGENE, Ore. — October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here’s a fact: 1 in 8 women will be affected by this disease in their lifetime.
That includes Deena Pederson. She’s a mother of six who makes homemade meals, grows fresh vegetables, and homeschools her daughter.
Every day is a whirlwind, but in 2010 it came to an unexpected halt.
With her husband Chris at work in Alaska, she took care of the children plus her husband’s parents who both needed medical attention. That’s when she got the first sign.
She had a pain in her chest that she thought was a bruise, so she ignored it. But the lump didn’t go away. Months later she realized something was wrong.
“The skin around the lump was all wrinkly. It looked aged,” Deena Pederson said.
She was 38 at the time. Breast cancer doesn’t run in her family, so it came as a shock when a doctor confirmed her fears.
“He looked at me, looked at the bump and yes, it needs to come out,” she said.
“Didn’t know what to think. I was in shock there was even a chance of that to happen at our age,” said Chris Pederson.
She was without health insurance, so the Susan G. Komen Foundation paid for Deena’s mammogram. She also qualified for the Oregon Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
Doctors performed a lumpectomy and removed her lymph nodes in her left arm. Deena is still dealing with the effects of chemotherapy and will continue Tamoxifen treatment. This battle isn’t over.
In her garden, she’s planted signs of hope. Deena and her family are now advocates of cancer screenings. She wants busy women like herself to slow down, make time to get a mammogram and perform monthly self breast exams. Deena knows her life will never be the same. The cancer got into her blood.
“There’s a chance I can get breast cancer again, yes. There’s a chance I could get cancer elsewhere, but it’s in everyone. Every single human being has cancer cells in their body. It’s not a matter of if but when,” she said.
Deena and her family will be at Autzen Stadium this Sunday for the third annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Eugene. Click here if you would like to register.