JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Stick this word in your mind: DIFFERENT.

Wendy Boykin was faithfully doing her self exams because she knows how important Buddy Check is. "I had my arm raised, and I was just feeling," she says. That's when she found a hard lump.

"It was different," she says. 

Wendy shows hard beads to help women understand what her lump felt like
First Coast News

And that's the key.  If you are faithful to your self-exams, you'll know when something feels different. 

Wendy says the lump felt like the hard bead on a key chain her sister made for her. She found the lump in the upper, outer quadrant of her breast, the most common place for breast cancer.

"I had to encounter eight rounds of chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiation," she says. No picnic. But now she says, "I'm loving life!"

Wendy in chemotherapy
Wendy Boykin

In fact, she is back to making her famous mac and cheese. What's the secret ingredient you ask? 

"I can't tell," she says. 

Enjoying mac and cheese is a big deal to her because during chemo she lost her ability to taste and love food. 

Wendy is hoping her story inspires other women to check. She has four sisters, and she is reminding them to check every Buddy Check Day, the 12th of each month.

So if you find a hard lump in your breast or anything different which concerns you, what should you do?   

Well, you should copy Wendy. She called the doctor right away.

"I love it when someone says, 'I just knew something wasn't right,'" Dr. Julie, Greenwalt at Baptist/MD Anderson, says. 

Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Julie Greenwalt, Baptist/MD Anderson
First Coast News

Dr. Greenwalt is Wendy's radiation oncologist. She says Wendy did catch her breast cancer early.  

"I tell my Stage 1 and Stage 2 patients they have a 95 percent chance of the breast cancer never coming back and only a 5 percent chance they even have to deal with breast cancer again," she says. 

Talk about impressive stats!  So why wouldn't you take a few minutes and do a self-exam every month? 

"I think Buddy Check is amazing," Dr. Greenwalt says.

 "It saved my life," Wendy says.

Remember, Buddy Check encourages self-exams AND mammograms AND a doctor's exam. 

If you want a free Buddy Check kit, we will mail it to you for free. Just call Baptist Health at 904-202-CARE. The kits include a waterproof card to hang in your shower to show how to do a self-exam.  It's a wonderful reminder, which has saved many lives. 

Buddy Check
First Coast News

If Buddy Check has helped you, please email First Coast News Jeannie Blaylock: jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com