MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Breast cancer, specifically among the African American community, is on the rise in Middle Georgia. Twiggs County has the highest number of late-stage diagnosis for breast cancer in the area at 45%, according to the Central Georgia Chapter of Susan G. Komen.
Bobbie Gaither has been getting regular mammograms for years.
"When you receive the letter in the mail well hey I don't have to see you for another year and then I found something under my arm, that was the shocking part," said Bobbie Gaither, Macon.
It was her intuition that caught the lump. The cancer was already spreading, requiring half a dozen rounds of the strongest chemo.
"Those six was the roughest time of my life. Many days I felt like I couldn't do it. I take chemo on Monday and by Wednesday I couldn't even hold my head up," explained Gaither.
She calls her battle with breast cancer a journey and a roller coaster
"I just kept saying I'm gonna beat this, I'm gonna beat this cause I had to beat it for my grandchildren, I want to see my grandchildren grow up," said Gaither.
21%-46% of all women with breast cancer in Middle Georgia discover their diagnosis in the late stage of the disease. Stage 4 diagnosis rates for black women are almost double the rates for white women, according to the Central Georgia Chapter of Susan G. Komen.
"That's really high numbers and we don't want you to be in the later stages, we want to catch it early, we want you to be treated early and get back to your life," said Sheila Henderson, Breast Care Center.
The manager of the Breast Care Center at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Sheila Henderson, says there are no excuses to get checked out.
"I know there's a misconception about mammograms that they're so painful, you can't stand it and that is I think a myth," explained Henderson.
The center has grants that help patients afford mammograms and other services.
There's no way of telling why this disease is so prevalent in Middle Georgia, but experts find it could be that people are waiting too long to see a doctor.
"I'm not sure if it's just fear or if it's just passed down from generation to generation, but we see that," said Henderson.
"Get your mammogram, see about yourself yah know because if I had of just went by that letter and not followed up I would be dead today," said Gaither.
Not only is Bobbie living life to its fullest, she is enjoying it cancer free.
"I said to myself either It'll beat me or I'll beat it and I'm determined and I'm gonna beat it," said Gaither.
If you want a breast exam, but don't know if you can afford it call the Breast Care Center
at (478) 633-2000.