Read real stories from EHP members who know first hand the importance of early detection. Get ahead of breast cancer by setting up a mammogram appointment with your doctor today to find the closest imaging center in your area. Your EHP benefit will cover this screening at 100%.

Jennifer Diaz is pictured with her best friend, Rosemary Gau

Jennifer F. Diaz

Nurse Practitioner
Johns Hopkins University

Breast cancer became a part of my life in February 2009. I was 43-years-old. I noticed changes in my right breast, so I had a mammogram and ultrasound that revealed three tumors.  A biopsy confirmed the terrifying diagnosis.

The next several months were a blur. I went through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. There was no doubt it was a rough time in my life. Most of my family members still live in the Philippines, so they could not be here to support me. I still felt very fortunate to have my boyfriend, daughter, and wonderful friends who helped me through it.

I have the utmost fondness for my friend, Roe Gall, who was my greatest cheerleader.  She rallied up the troops, so to speak, and provided me strength and encouragement during my treatments.  They kept me nourished, and kept me warm with their hugs.

I believe in and promote breast cancer awareness. My stories, and others, are powerful attestations to the importance of early detection of breast cancer through mammography and self-breast exam.

Tonya Evang-Brown is pictured with her mother, Ruby Brown

Tonya Evang-Brown

Retail Manager, Food and Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bayview

I went to the doctor in December 1998.  I don’t know why, but I was determined to have a mammogram, even though my doctor suggested I wait until I was 40. The mammogram found non-cancerous lumps in my right breast.

During a routine self-examination, I noticed a pimple-sized growth on my left breast. I informed my surgeon.  Following the routine lumpectomy on the right breast, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer in my left breast in February 1999.

I was scared, sad, angry, and terrified.  I could not eat or sleep and I lost a lot of weight. What would happen to my family if I die?  Who would take care of my teenage daughter?

My mom escorted me to all of my doctor’s appointments. She was with me during each of my chemo treatments.  She pushed me when I didn’t think I could handle any more. My husband kept watch over me at night.  He helped me shave my head when I began to lose my hair.

If something does not feel right, get it checked out no matter what.  Self-examination is the reason I’m alive today.

Victoria Semanie pictured with her mother, Bonnie, sister Kathy and daughter Leah

Vicki Semanie

Vice President / Chief Financial Officer
Johns Hopkins Home Care Group

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2009.  My OB/GYN discovered a lump in my left breast during an annual examination.  I was referred to a breast surgeon and received a diagnostic mammogram.  A needle biopsy indicated that the lump was benign.  I had another diagnostic mammogram and biopsy.  At that point, the radiologist recommended a lumpectomy.  I was diagnosed after having that procedure.  

I have two sisters, a daughter and a family history of breast cancer.  They were very concerned we might carry mutations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  I underwent genetic testing and determined that this was not the case.

I have learned that a breast cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of the world.  Dealing with the facts, understanding options and developing a plan for treatment, and your life during treatment, is necessary and makes a world of difference.

Many women believe they are “Superwoman” and are accustomed to caring for themselves and their families in addition to working a full time job.  When undergoing treatment, women should accept help from family and friends.  It is one time that it’s okay to let others take care of you.

Lillie Shockney pictured with her husband, Al

Lillie Shockney

Administrative Director, Johns Hopkins Breast Center and Director of Johns Hopkins Cancer Survivorship Programs
Johns Hopkins Hospital

I had a lump in my right breast and my GYN arranged for me to have a mammogram.  It ended up being a cyst. The radiologist recommended that I get a baseline mammogram of my left breast. That is where the breast cancer was found.

As a nurse, I was very accustomed to taking care of patients with cancer.  I simply never imagined that I would become a cancer patient myself.

Having multiple cancers in my breast was challenging to accept. My husband, Al, told me to look at mastectomy as transformation surgery.  I was exchanging my breast for another chance at life and that it was a fair trade. He was right.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, especially if it was a first degree relative, talk with your doctor as to whether some form of breast imaging should being sooner than age 40. Also perform breast self-exams monthly.

This experience defined what my real purpose in life was supposed to be. I decided to dedicate myself personally and professionally to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who need education and support as they progress through their own journey.

Leslie Beck is pictured with her brother, Marc and son, Jordan

Leslie Beck

Project Manager, Medical Management
Johns Hopkins HealthCare

My experience began in June 2003. During an exam, my doctor felt a lump in my breast. He sent me for a mammography.  I met with a surgeon who had to remove a sample for a biopsy.  Soon after, I received a call from the doctor’s office and was told the biopsy showed ductal carcinoma in situ, also referred to as DCIS, a noninvasive cancer.

After many conversations with my doctors, and based on my family history (my mother had breast cancer), I decided to have a double mastectomy which would reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

I needed a lot of help during my recovery.  The biggest changes my family and I faced were juggling life’s everyday routines in the midst of managing my health.  I delegated tasks so everyone had a role in keeping our family on track.

Looking back on this experience, I think I have more courage than before. When I’m faced with a challenge, I face it head on.  I work at having balance in my life, so there’s time for my career, family, friends and me.  I appreciate each day, and take nothing for granted.