October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, a cause that means more to me now than it did 10 years ago when my mother told us she had breast cancer.

I asked mom to write a paragraph or two on her experience with breast cancer and to put in her own words why she thinks regular mammograms are so important.

 My name is Karen Mills and this October, 2012, is my tenth year as a breast cancer survivor. As I look back at my early life as a country girl, there weren't any female relatives with a history of breast cancer that I knew about. I had only smoked two cigarettes my entire life, didn't drink or do drugs and I exercised and watched my weight. Why did I get breast cancer? I have no idea.

Four years prior to my diagnosis of breast cancer, I had a lumpectomy because, from a self exam, I discovered several lumps or nodules that weren't there the previous month. After the lumpectomy, I was diagnosed as having fibrocystic disease which could eventually lead to breast cancer. It did; however, as I was in self-denial of the lump that appeared 4 years later, being so sure that it was fibrocystic, I almost let it go too long because by the time I went to the doctor, who then referred me to a surgeon, it was already in stage II carcinoma.

I would really encourage women, especially those with a history of breast cancer in their family or a fibrocystic disease, to do monthly self-checks and get an annual mammogram. Be very aware that it could happen to you. Cancer is no respecter of persons. It can show up in anyone. The trick is early detection.

Thanks, Mom.

Friday, Oct. 12 you're urged to wear pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure in Texarkana will be on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Four States Fairgrounds.