WAYNE, NJ -- On Carrie Duane-Basham’s 40th birthday, she made an appointment for a mammogram. The results from that test were clear. Then the next year, a lump was felt, she went to the doctor, had a diagnostic mammogram and biopsy, and was found to have cancer.
“I went from a clean mammogram to four masses bilaterally, had a double-mastectomy six days later, and started 16 rounds of chemo about a month and a half after that.”
Duane-Basham was 41, healthy, a non-smoker, and had no family medical history of breast cancer.
After her recovery, she decided that she had a role to play to help others. “When I was diagnosed, I didn’t have breast cancer survivors to speak to. I had a very supportive family, my doctors were great, but I didn’t have anyone to say, ‘Hey Carrie, this is what I felt like when I went through this’,” said Duane-Basham. “I wanted to be that person to share my journey.”
And now, Carrie is involved with Susan G. Komen North Jersey, where she offers up advice to other women fighting breast cancer, such as, “Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor--be afraid when you don’t go.”
Duane-Basham discovered that despite a lifetime of being afraid of public speaking, she could be strong and inspire others. “The strength--I didn’t know I had it until I needed it,” she said. “I didn’t know I had this in me until cancer brought it out of me.”
The Women’s Wellness Expo featured free clinical breast exams, glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, HIV testing and BCAT cognitive screening and other testing. Medical professionals were on hand for presentations and informative sessions open to the public. Susan G. Komen North Jersey, the Passaic County Department of Health, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders partnered to present the Expo, held at Passaic County Technical Institute.
“We get to work with a lot of amazing volunteers,” said Kelly E. Nagle, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen North Jersey. Though everyone’s experience is different, she said, sharing personal experiences can be powerful “to have their vibrancy and their inspiration and hope.”
“Everybody’s journey is different so how they embrace it is their own. There’s no right or wrong,” Duane-Basham added. “How you get through this path is going to be right because it’s yours.”