Luling resident shares story of early detection, survival
By Wesley Gardner
When Karen Svoboda took a tumble just before Christmas in 2019, she could have never known the fall might have saved her life.
Svoboda, a Luling resident, was actually leaving Church on that fateful afternoon.
“I was leaving one church and going to another when I stumbled and fell,” said Svoboda. “When it was all said and done and I picked myself off the roadway, I was bleeding profusely from my head, but that was the only place.”
Svoboda said she noticed a bruise on her right breast several days after, which she initially thought was caused by the water bottle she’d been holding when she fell. The bruising eventually faded after a few months, but Svoboda then began to notice dimpling in the area.
“About a month later, I went to Dr. Renu Mohandas’ [office] and shared my concerns,” said Svoboda. “She looked at it and said, ‘I think we need to delve into this. I don’t want to alarm you, but I think we need to look a little deeper into this.’”
Following a mammogram and additional imaging, Svoboda was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Initially, I teared up,” said Svoboda, noting Mohandas tried to cheer up upon revealing the news. “I told her I was fine.
“It was a release — kind of like steam from a steam pot.”
Even after being scheduled for surgery, Svoboda said she was able to remain calm about the situation.
“To be honest, I was not alarmed,” said Svoboda. “I have a very deep and abiding faith, so I wasn’t terribly alarmed. The healing process was very calming.”
Svoboda said her surgery was so successful, she was released the same afternoon.
“It’s remarkable now that they can do so much,” she said.
Svoboda said she still remains thankful that she fell after leaving church that day, because it might have saved her life.
“I feel like it was a blessing that there was a bruise there because I wouldn’t have paid that much attention to that area,” said Svoboda. “This happened, and I think it happened for a reason.”
According to Mohandas, medical director at Ascension Seton Edgar B Davis Hospital in Luling, there are several risk factors associated with breast cancer that women should keep in mind.
“One of the most important risk factors is increasing age and being female,” said Mohandas. “As a woman ages, her risk of developing breast cancer is higher.”
Mohandas also noted there is generally a higher risk of developing breast cancer for women if they have a history of breast cancer in their family.
Certainly lifestyles, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol or weight problems, can also lead to a higher risk, she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms are recommended once a year for women at average risk from the age of 45. That can be changed to every other year at age 55, if the woman chooses.
Mohandas noted that women younger than 44 should still consider scheduling mammograms if they’re at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
According to Mohandas, there are a number of symptoms that might be a result of breast cancer, including feeling a lump in the chest, physical issues with the skin of the breast, such as discoloration or dimpling, pain in the area and discharge from the nipples.
“The other thing to keep in mind is that breast cancer may present itself at a very early stage where it is not detectable via feeling a lump in the breast, so that’s why screening mammograms are important for prevention,” said Mohandas. “If breast cancer is detected in its early stages, there’s treatment that can prevent further progression of the cancer.
“In other words, early detection equals early treatment, and therefore a good prognosis for these women.”
For more information, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines.