A local businesswoman said her battle with breast cancer has underscored the importance of mammograms – a message she and her employees hope to spread during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Louise Bowes, owner of Flower Whispers, said she had avoided mammograms for years prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer in March, given the physical discomfort associated with the procedure.
“I was just so lucky that it was an actual lump I could feel,” she said. “A lot of times, they can’t feel it or see it until it’s way too late.”
Bowes, 62, said her diagnosis last spring came as a surprise. She said she noticed a lump on one of her breasts, but thought it was simply a new muscle formed by some exercises she had recently started doing.
"I kind of left it at that and didn’t pay attention, because that’s what I thought it was,” she said.
Bowes said she decided to visit a physician after the lump became tender. After visiting her doctor, she said she underwent a mammogram and biopsy that revealed a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma.
“They acted very quickly," she said. "I ended up having a lumpectomy, so they took [the tumour] out and I had to do all the chemotherapy.”
Her chemotherapy treatments have now concluded, and Bowes said the next step of her recovery will be to endure 16 consecutive days of radiation therapy next month.
Because her cancer was caught early on, Bowes said she is hopeful to be cancer-free by the end of her radiation therapy.
“It sounds like it’s all going to be caught, so I was really lucky,” she said.
In honour of both Bowes and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, employees of Flower Whispers have created a new, pink floral arrangement. Val Unrau, one of the Stonegate-based florist’s designers, said the arrangement includes a bouquet of pink flowers and handmade earrings in the shape of the pink ribbon – an international symbol of breast cancer awareness.
“We’re selling that arrangement and our hope is that people will give that arrangement out to...fighters and survivors of breast cancer,” she said.
Unrau said the store will also be handing out pink roses to women Oct. 16, as the third Friday of October is recognized as National Mammography Day. She said the efforts are to spread awareness of breast cancer and to support Bowes as she continues to fight her cancer.
“As a staff, we’ve watched her take on this challenge,” Unrau said.
“We just decided, because she has a small business and lives here in Airdrie…that this is really important – to reach out to women in Airdrie and be supportive. That was our driving force, and we decided to create this as a way of showing her how much we’re supporting her through this whole journey.”
For any women who are hesitant to receive a mammogram, Bowes recommended visiting Pureform and Purekids Radiology, a diagnostics clinic in Airdrie’s downtown.
“I highly would suggest they go to Pureform in Airdrie, because they did the mammogram and it was nowhere near as painful as the last place I went to,” she said.