Detecting cancer early

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 4:16 PM CDT
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In a time where hospitals are expanding care for COVID-19 patients, other health conditions have taken the backseat.

However, one Bismarck woman caught her cancer symptoms early by not pushing off her appointments.

Kristi Meuchel is now one of four sisters who have breast cancer.

"I always felt it wasn't so much of an if I got cancer, it was more of when with my family history," Meuchel said.

Yearly screenings have always been important for her and her family.

"I made my appointment in January before the pandemic hit, and I knew that it would be a little different when I went in on March 20," Meuchel said.

Radiologists at Sanford Hospital say they have seen a decline in woman getting their checkups.

"Breast cancer is still very common. One in eight women will get breast cancer, and unfortunately during this COVID season we've seen screenings as a whole have decreased by 80% to 90% which is very scary," said Christina Tello-Skjerseth, MD radiologist.

And if Meuchel had waited, the early stages could have worsened.

"If she would have waited another year that cancer could have doubled in size, it could have increased even more in size, or spread to other parts of her body and could have become untreatable," Tello-Skjerseth said.

However, Sanford was able to set up treatment right away.

"A lot of people have had surgeries and treatments delayed in their areas. And that made me really nervous, I didn't want to put anything off and no one ever even mentioned that," Meuchel said.

Meuchel hopes to inspire others to not put off their screenings.

"Don't be afraid to go to the hospital, don't be afraid to go to your doctor, they are taking precautions, they are being safe and will keep you safe. Its so important to get early detection. Life can change based on that," Meuchel said.

In hopes other women will detect early stages before it spreads.

As of Wednesday, Meuchel will be halfway through her chemotherapy treatments before beginning radiation.

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