Holly Whitworth of Mooreville bought Creative Cakes, a local bakery, in April 2015. A few months later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A tearful phone call to her son, who was serving overseas in the Army, turned to tears of joy when she found out that day that she would be a grandmother.
“That was a whirlwind time, and I told my doctor I didn’t have time for breast cancer right then,” Holly says.
At age 41, she hadn’t started her recommended yearly mammograms yet, but noticed a change in her breasts. One changed sizes and was itchy.
“I went to my doctor and he asked if I’d had my mammogram,” she says. “When he found out I hadn’t, he slapped my hand and scheduled me for a basic one.”
Because her mother died of breast cancer at age 55 after a six-month battle, her doctor ordered Holly’s baseline mammogram at age 30. She hadn’t had one since.
After her mammogram, a biopsy was scheduled for the following week. Three spots were biopsied, and one came back positive for breast cancer.
“I watched my mother suffer through treatment, and I always said that’s not what I would want,” Hollysays. “But after my son told me they were expecting a baby, I knew I couldn’t give up.”
After talking it over with all her physicians and her family, she decided the best choice for her was a double mastectomy. Because she’s self-employed, she doesn’t have health insurance, so she opted for no reconstruction.
“I didn’t want to wonder if cancer was ever going to come back. I knew this was what I wanted,” she says.
She is now on a maintenance chemotherapy drug to prevent recurrence, but says she’s had no side effects from it.
Now, Holly and her team of providers keep a close eye on her health. She has regular bloodwork, and while she’s needed a few extra tests, so far there are no signs of cancer returning.
“My mother never went to the doctor,” she says. “If she had started getting her mammograms at age 40, or not waited so late to go to the doctor, who knows what would have happened. I am so thankful mine was caught early and I had options. I always stress to women the importance of getting their screenings.”
Holly and her family started participating in the north Mississippi Race for the Cure in 2014 in memory of her mother. Now, there’s still about 20 of them that participate together in Hope Continues, and Whitworth donates cookies for the cause.