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Mary Raimondo, mother of five, recounts her brush with breast cancer

October 7, 2018

Editor’s note: In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Columbus Telegram is publishing a week-long series, “Think pink,” sharing the stories of community members who battled or are currently battling breast cancer. The series started on Tuesday and concludes today; read previously published stories on columbustelegram.com. The Telegram’s masthead is also pink this week instead of its normal red to commemorate the month.

Mary Raimondo is diligent about getting her yearly mammogram. Ever since a family member underwent treatment for breast cancer decades ago, Raimondo said the thought of getting the disease herself was always in the back of her mind.

In March 2017, the 57-year-old mother of five got a surprise from her yearly check-up.

“Every time I go, it’s pretty routine,” Raimondo said about the exam. “You go in, you have your mammogram, they give you your note and tell you ‘see you next year.’ So when I went this time I expected the same thing.”

But after the test, doctors asked Raimondo if she had time to do an ultrasound. After that, they asked if she could schedule a biopsy. All the while, Raimondo said she never expected anything was wrong.

“I never once thought it was cancer, she said. “I just said (to her husband) ‘I think they’re just excited that they get to do a biopsy.’ I never think about those percentages, whatever the percentages are (of breast cancer), you never think it’s going to be you.”

Raimondo was out with her youngest daughter shopping for prom flowers when she got a call from a doctor with the Columbus Women’s Healthcare. She was diagnosed with stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma, a common form of breast cancer.

“You always think that if this came to you, breast cancer, this is what I would do,” Raimondo said. “And then you find out you have breast cancer and you don’t know what to do.”

Raimondo underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer. The surgery was a success and she was able to take part in chaperoning the Columbus High School choir trip to New York City as she had originally planned.

She said she is thankful for the 3-D mammogram she underwent. The test is relatively new and was only recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011. Raimondo attributed the exam to saving her life.

“I never felt anything, I never felt sick, I felt fabulous,” she said. “And that 3D mammogram, I am certain is what saved my life, because it caught it so early because I never felt it.”

Raimondo didn’t need to go through chemotherapy but did undergo radiation treatments. Today she is cancer-free and said she is thankful that she was able to all her treatment in Columbus.

“Everybody in this community who is able to help will help,” she said about the local medial resources in the area. “There are people to guide you and I felt through my journey that I felt confident with the advice that I was given.”

Dr. Joan Keit, the medical director of Columbus Cancer Care, said that the Columbus area has a wide variety of resources available for local cancer patients.

“We have very good cancer treatment within the Columbus area and we can do most things that any big city can,” Keit said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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