BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Shelly Issacs has a family history of breast cancer. Because of this, she is diligent about attending her annual mammograms and watching for symptoms.

According to a news release, when finances got tight, Issacs enrolled as a Women’s Way client to ensure she could continue these preventative measures. That’s why, in November 2021 when she noticed a change in her breast health, she was prepared to seek help immediately.

“I noticed dimpling…and, because of Women’s Way, I knew that was a bad sign and something to watch for,” said Isaacs.

Women’s Way is the North Dakota breast and cervical cancer early detection program.

As an enrolled client, Issacs received both financial and patient navigation services that helped her keep up to date on breast cancer screenings.

Issacs wasn’t only educated on the warning signs, but she had her annual mammogram scheduled.

“I always schedule my mammogram for the end of the year,” said Isaacs. “So I thought well, I’ll make sure I tell them about this.”

A mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stage.

In some cases, early detection gives the woman a choice over her treatment options. This was exactly the case for Issacs.

“The great and wonderful news was because I knew to watch for that dimpling, they were able to find the cancer at stage zero. I was able to have a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy, which I’m also really grateful for,” said Issacs.

But after two successful attempts to acquire enough cancer-free tissue from around the tumor during her lumpectomies, the doctor presented the option again.

She could try one more time, or opt for a mastectomy.

“I didn’t think it mattered to me… but then when it came right down to it, I would rather try again than not. So we had the third surgery, and he called the next day and said that there were clear margins,” said Isaacs. “I was so happy. I just never realized how happy I would be about that.”

Issacs encourages all women to schedule their annual mammograms.

“It’s like that adage that a stitch in time saves nine. If you take care of it right away, there’s a chance you’ll catch it before it spreads,” said Isaacs.

For many women, finances are the reason for not getting screened.

Thankfully, Women’s Way can help and may provide a way to pay for breast cancer screening.

If you’re in need of assistance but are hesitant to reach out to Women’s Way, Issacs encourages you to think of your loved ones.

“It can be embarrassing to think you need help. For me, I think it was a matter of humbling myself, and not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of my sons as well.”

To learn more about Women’s Way, or to find out if you are eligible, visit http://www.health.nd.gov/womens-way.