Breast cancer survivor shares journey during awareness event

Breast cancer survivor and guest speaker Lesley Miller addresses the crowd during Missouri Delta Foundation’s Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, at First Christian Church in Sikeston.
Friday, October 6, 2023
Gina Williams/Standard Democrat

SIKESTON — The Missouri Delta Foundation kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its annual luncheon to raise funds for breast health care.

The event took place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the First Christian Church in Sikeston. The luncheon included a guest speaker, lunch, raffles, and special recognition for breast cancer survivors who have fought and won their battles against cancer.

Amy Alcorn, director of the Missouri Delta Foundation, said she was thrilled to help organize the popular breast cancer luncheon again this year. Last year’s luncheon was the Foundation’s first following a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Lesley Miller, this year’s speaker, was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, or IDC, at the age of 40.

Miller said her life was very perfect just before discovering her cancer. She had recently completed her 12-year teaching degree in order to stay at home and homeschool her children, expecting that this would allow them more time to travel.

“Around June of last year, my 8-month-old son stopped nursing on my right side,” Miller said. “At first, I didn’t think too much about it.”

Miller said while taking a bath one night, she felt two lumps under her armpits. Miller went ahead and made an appointment because she believed God was telling her to do so and she was soon undergoing an ultrasound and biopsy.

Miller said she clung to her faith and God’s word during this difficult time of many unknowns.

“I learned quickly that I couldn’t let the devil win,” Miller said. “I had to make a choice to focus daily with a positive mindset.”

IDC is the most common type of breast cancer, and Alcorn said she hoped Miller’s testimony at the luncheon motivates more women to speak up for themselves when something doesn’t feel right.

Since its debut in 2011, the breast cancer awareness luncheon has raised thousands of dollars to benefit several breast health initiatives at Missouri Delta.

The primary goal of the breast cancer luncheon, according to Alcorn, is to educate women about the importance of yearly mammograms.

Alcorn said the luncheon is important because it also provides funds to assist people who are underinsured or uninsured in receiving their annual mammograms. The funds raised may also be used to provide the newest training to Missouri Delta Medical Center’s mammography technicians and radiologists.

“Breast cancer awareness is important because one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” Alcorn said. “Breast cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early; that’s why the recommendation is to have your baseline mammogram between the ages of 35-40 unless you have a strong family history; then you should have one earlier.”

Apart from the luncheon and throughout the month of October, Missouri Delta Medical Center’s marketing staff, according to Alcorn, will provide educational content on social media.

“We also have our mammography staff speak to different civic organizations, employers and events if requested,” Alcorn said.

Alcorn said those who wish to have the mammography staff speak to their organization or group should contact Missouri Delta’s marketing department.