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Sunday, October 23 2011, 11:40 PM CDT

BARABOO (WMSN) -- Every survivor story starts with a date. For Baraboo's Anne Calkins, it's July 1, 2011.


Calkins, 50, learned she had breast cancer after a routine mammogram her doctor recommended.


"That was tough telling both my kids. That was probably the hardest
thing I've ever had to do. Harder than having a diagnosis of breast
cancer," she said.


The diagnosis came at a tough time: the family had recently learned
her husband Kevin's mom also had cancer. She died a month after Anne's
diagnosis.


"All you can do is keep living," Kevin Calkins said.


But the couple knows in one sense, Anne's diagnosis came just in
time. Thanks to the routine mammogram, doctors at St. Clare Hospital in
Baraboo were able to spot her tumor early.


"By catching it early, we can avoid chemotherapy altogether. And
nowadays we do breast conservation surgery on most patients, which means
we don't remove the breast. It's very well tolerated," said Dr. Kristen
Wells, who performed Anne's surgery, known as lumpectomy.


Early detection also has a big impact on survival rate. 88 percent of
patients live at least 5 years with Stage I breast cancer. Just 15
percent live that period with the most advanced stage.


Calkins had no history of breast cancer in her family, and no risk
factors like having children later in life, smoking, or being
overweight.


She was only alerted by that routine mammogram.


"Go in and have a mammogram. Go in for your yearly checks. Do your self breast exams," Calkins said.


It's advice she doesn't know where she would be without.Anne's story: surviving breast cancer in Baraboo

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