Tyler firefighters visit breast cancer patients - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Tyler firefighters visit breast cancer patients

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TYLER (KYTX) - Dorothy Harris could really use a hug and a bouquet of flowers.

In just a few hours, she will undergo surgery at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital to have a lump removed from her breast.

"It makes you mad....but there's so many nice people," said Harris.

To see these firefighters encourage breast cancer survivors brought a smile to Dorothy's face.

"You really don't know how behind you they are until you have something like this," said Harris. 

Two Tyler firefighters suited up in pink delivered roses, the same color as their suits, to cancer survivors.

"We brighten their days, their eyes and we realize we can make a difference as firefighters by wearing pink and telling women we care and we support them," said Steven Wieczor. 

Breast cancer is a personal issue for the Tyler fire department. Just a few years ago, a fellow firefighter's wife lost her battle to cancer.

Norma Spence has witnessed her friends fight breast cancer. For 23 years, she's been getting an annual mammogram.

"It takes a little time. There's not any pain to it at all," said Spence.

Norma's doctor, Dr.Michael Klouda with East Texas Medical Center said breast cancer is no longer a death sentence.

"We're detecting the tumors at a smaller size or at an earlier stage and we are affecting better outcomes over time," said Dr.Klouda.

Dr. Klouda said since 1990, early detection through mammograms decreased the breast cancer death rate by 33%.

It all has to do with women coming in every year, starting at the age of 40, to get their breasts examined.

"Some people have a hard time remembering when to come in. I recommend they come in on their birthday," added Dr.Klouda.

Dorothy Harris said she wished she would have listened to that advice. She let five years pass between mammograms until a friendly reminder from a neighbor. 

"Don't wait five years. Do it yearly," said Harris.

As she prepares to go into the operating room, she has a strong network of support behind her letting her know this is only the beginning of her battle and not the end.

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