Buddy Check 25: "Be aware of any change"

By Gina Morss

November 25, 2012 Updated Nov 26, 2012 at 3:09 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Theresa Koehler knew her risk for breast cancer. She knew her family health history and she talked to her doctor about her personal risk.

"My sister is a breast cancer survivor also," said Koehler, "and she's had it on both sides seven years apart. But, for some reason, I just thought it was never gonna impact me."

The wife and mother of two had long practiced monthly breast self-exam and eventually noticed a change.

"Something felt different," said Koehler. "It wasn't the typical tumor, lump, marble, grain of sand. It wasn't round."

Still, the then 47-year-old initially brushed off the subtle symptom.

"When I went for my routine exam, I didn't even say anything," she said.

Fortunately, at another doctor visit she decided to speak up.

"While I was there I said, 'What do you think about this?' She said, 'I think you're going back for a mammogram right now and it did not show up on the mammogram. It did not show up on the ultrasound, which I had right away," said Koehler.

But, her radiologist felt something suspicious. A biopsy revealed stage 3 breast cancer.

"Be aware of any change," said Koehler. "Don't just look for a round tumor, lump, whatever, but be aware of any change. Go right way when there's any change, any dimpling, anything that just feels different. Just go get it checked out."

Nearly two years after her diagnosis, Koehler is finally finished with chemotherapy and enjoying the fullness of life's even smallest pleasures.