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York County breast cancer survivor shares her experience and resources to help those diagnosed with cancer

  • Aniya Faulcon
Group of young multiracial woman with pink ribbons in support of breast cancer awareness.


Group of young multiracial woman with pink ribbons in support of breast cancer awareness.

Airdate: October 07, 2022

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, this year, almost 288,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and over 51,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States.

Over 43,000 women in the country are expected to die this year from breast cancer. The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1% per year from 2013 to 2018 due to treatment advances and earlier detection through screening, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

More than 2,700 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer each year and over 500 men die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this month, Natalie Kopp, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition Communications Director, and Teresa Spittle, Breast Cancer Survivor and Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition York County Captain joined us on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss breast cancer, early detection methods, and resources to help those living with cancer.

Kopp said, breast cancer is a disease in which the cells in breasts grow out of control and form a tumor; non-invasive breast cancer is contained in milk ducts, invasive breast cancer is when the cancer has spread beyond the milk ducts and globules into the surrounding tissue of the breast.

She also said, women who have dense breast tissue, with a family history or personal history of breast cancer, previous radiation therapy experience, or a genetic predisposition to breast cancer are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

Here are some symptoms of breast cancer:

  • A lump or mass in the breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Itchiness, swelling, or pain in the breast
  • Change in the shape, size, or appearance of the breast
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Breast rash
  • Pulling-in of the nipple
  • Redness, scaling, peeling, or flaking skin over the breast

“But we hope it doesn’t get to a point where you have symptoms because we want to encourage women starting at age forty to get annual mammograms,” Kopp said. “If you are at high risk for breast cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting a breast MRI or an ultrasound; those are required to be covered by insurers and if you’re insured under Pennsylvania law. So we hope it doesn’t get to the stage where you have symptoms but those self-breast exams are important.”

Kopp also said, if someone has a family history of breast cancer, they may want to talk to their doctor about getting screened earlier than the age of forty.

Spittle found a lump in her right breast at the age of thirty seven during a breast self-exam at home.

“That was probably one of the scariest parts was having to share that news with my children,” Spittle said. “My son is special needs, he didn’t quite understand. My daughter was seven at the time and that broke my heart to have to expose that scary word, cancer, to her and and bring it into our house and into our family.”

Spittle said, she received a lumpectomy and went through eight rounds of chemotherapy and over the course of sixteen weeks followed up with twenty rounds of radiation. She experienced the painful side effects of cancer treatment and her children helped her to shave her head, Spittle said she embraced this process but it was scary.

Today, Spittle is cancer free and she said ringing the bell after her treatment was emotional and joyful.

“For the women with breast cancer, who are currently in treatment, were just diagnosed, or maybe you just had found a lump and you’re on your way to get a mammogram and an ultrasound, I would just encourage you to compartmentalize the days of treatment. You know, I still had a life. I wasn’t just cancer,” Spittle said. “And for those who haven’t been diagnosed, do your self-exams.  It truly saved my life. It would have been another six months until my next annual checkup and advocating for my own health saved my life and it will save yours.”

For more information and resources involving breast cancer and mammograms visit or call 800-377-8828.

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