For six months Maureen Redfern didn't think much about the lump she found in her right breast.
But when the former DJ for KILO 94.3 FM, best known for her longtime spot alongside Ross Ford on the morning show "Ross 'n Mo," finally went for her first mammogram, the result wasn't pretty.
She was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer on March 25, five days before her 52nd birthday.
"I hadn't had any of my mammograms," Redfern said. "I'm such a procrastinator. There's no cancer in my family. I felt it and thought no big deal."
Surgeons did a mastectomy of her right breast in late April and took out 20 lymph nodes, though only one of them was cancerous. She recently completed her sixth and final chemotherapy treatment and is waiting for another breast reconstruction after the first one resulted in a life-threatening infection. That surgery will have to be postponed, however, if she decides to get radiation.
After a five-year break from work to raise her two daughters with her husband, Redfern went back to work at KILO about three weeks before she was diagnosed. The station agreed to let her work part time when she felt well enough and she's filled in for DJs and done some remote broadcasts. She'll start doing bits on the morning show in late October.
"My energy's back," Redfern said. "I went for a walk and wasn't winded walking up and down hills. That's a huge step. Four stairs will make you feel like you ran a marathon when you're in chemotherapy."
The biggest lesson she's taken away from the whole experience is to get anything worrisome checked out as soon as possible. To get the message out, she went on air at KILO after her first chemo treatment with a "Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself" campaign.
"If I had checked the lump when I felt it they would have just done the lumpectomy," she said. "I've been in so many doctors' offices. I would have given it all up if I had just gone to one doctor six months ago."
She stresses the importance of getting mammograms to her daughters, who are now at higher risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.
"It's a 20-minute appointment," she said. "Insurance covers it. It's not invasive - it's not even as invasive as a pap smear. Looking back I should have started at 40."
The American Cancer Society recommends women get annual mammograms beginning at age 40.
"The doctor called me a poster child for healthy living," Redfern said. "I'd walk five miles a day, I didn't eat junk food. I drank soda - that was my only vice. The minute you get cancer you start researching your life - what did I do? The doctors warn you don't do that. You didn't do anything wrong. It could have just been the luck of the draw."