WASHINGTON – When Kristi Mangan saw a picture of her sister kissing someone this spring, she wondered who the mystery person was.
Then she realized that person was herself.
The photo was taken at last year’s Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure, just after Mangan had undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer, which had robbed her of her hair.
Mangan’s hair is now back. But the Manassas, Va., mother of two young boys won’t forget what she learned.
“I found the lump myself,” Mangan remembers. “I was actually running on my treadmill … and my chest was sore and I was poking around and I felt it. And I asked my husband, ‘Does this feel like a lump?'”
Mangan normally wasn’t one to conduct self-exams.
“I had foolishly — out of fear, ironically — not been doing them, assuming my doctor would find if something was wrong,” she says.
A doctor didn’t detect the lump only weeks earlier. The cancer was spreading rapidly, and Mangan began treatment immediately.
When she ran last year, Mangan writes in a Komen blog that it was just one week after her last chemo treatment. A photographer captured a tender moment with her sister at the finish line, and the photo since has been prominently featured by the organization.
A few weeks after the race, there was no sign of Mangan’s cancer. She plans to run in this year’s Komen race on Mother’s Day weekend, May 11.
“If there’s one thing that I could convey to other women and men, it’s to do a self-exam every month, and to not be afraid of it or to assume that a doctor is going to find if something’s wrong,” she says.