After diagnosis, young Lexington mom encourages breast self-examination | Rare Techy


Lexington, Ky. (LEX 18) – Along with high-risk mammograms and MRIs, monthly self-exams were part of Emily May’s routine after losing her own mother to breast cancer in 2005.

She continued this habit even when she was pregnant with her second son.

“You have a lot of breast changes during pregnancy, so when I do the self-exam, I don’t feel right, but could this be the cause?” May, who works as a supervisor of oncology services at CHI St. Joseph Health, told us.

Earlier this year, the 35-year-old was diagnosed with a lump in her left breast just days before giving birth. She quickly made a mammogram appointment when a biopsy revealed triple-negative breast cancer.

“You quickly go into survival mode,” May said. “I want to live for my children. What must I do to survive?”

May credits the support of family and friends and quick care at the hospital for what happened next. She gave birth a week after diagnosis and started chemotherapy a few weeks later. Twelve treatments in, Harrison and Bennett’s mother is tired but grateful.

She spreads awareness about self-examination and the importance of taking your health into your own hands.

Kelly Toponak, director of breast care at CHI St. Joseph Health, echoes that message.

Yes mom!  5K for CHI St. Joe

CHI St. Joseph Health

Yes mom! CHI St. Joe’s 5K, Saturday, October 15, 2022, in Nicholasville, Photo by Mark Mahan Multimedia

“It’s probably the first thing you notice,” she said. “That, along with your regular annual mammogram, can save your life.”

In May, “I’d like to say it saved my life,” she said of the breast self-exams she’s done over the years. “I’ve talked to doctors who said if you don’t do this, six months from now we’ll be having another conversation. So that really hits home for me.”


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