LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Debbie Haas is an Ultrasound Technologist at South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel. She said she's spent years testing women for mammograms, but never did she think she'd be a victim.
"The radiologist called me in his office and said you need to do something about this," Haas said.
Debbie was first diagnosed in March 2010, when she went in for a yearly mammogram. Fortunately, she says she was able to catch it early and chose to have a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation therapy treatment.
"So I kind of put that out of my mind that it was done with," Haas said.
But, seven years later, Debbie said she noticed something while getting out of the shower.
"So all night laying in the bed trying to rub this lump away but it never went away," Haas said. "So it did come back. Stage 1 invasive ductal carsonoma, and after much soul searching, I chose to do a bilateral mastectomy."
Debbie said she decided to have both her breast removed. She now wears a three pound prosthetic bra. She said the decision to not do reconstruction surgery was the hardest decision she could make but after having two occurrences of breast cancer, bilateral mastectomy gave her a peace of mind.
"I'm not saying I won't go back for reconstruction, but right now I'm happy with where I am," Haas said.
She said while she's happy with her decision, nothing could prepare her for when she looked at herself without her breast for the first time.
"The first time I looked, my husband was with me in the bathroom because he was my caregiver in the bathroom, to help me do my drains and get a shower. I was devastated," Haas said.
Debbie has not undergone chemo therapy, but she says the fear still lingers.
"Even though I have fought breast cancer, I guess I feel like I haven't fought breast cancer because I haven't had to go that extra step," Haas said.
Now, Debbie said she uses her story to encourage not only patients but people she comes across day to day to always get their mammogram.
"I know a mammogram is uncomfortable," Haas said. "It's just a necessary evil that we have to do. It's just like taxes, it's a necessary evil that you've just got to do for your own health.