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THINK PINK: Routine check-up led to early detection for Relay for Life leader
Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson, 46, was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer in March after after a routine mammogram. (Special to The News)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Melissa Thompson, a 46-year-old school bus driver, admits she had fallen behind on annual mammograms. Life happened, then COVID-19 happened. But in March 2021, she got back on track at the Women’s Diagnostic Center at Piedmont Newton Hospital. 

“I just went in for a regular, routine mammogram,” she said. 

It was good she did. Ultimately, Thompson learned she had stage 2B breast cancer. She hadn’t felt a lump or experienced any other symptoms. 

She and her husband digested the news before telling their three daughters, ages 25, 22 and 20.

“We just locked arms and began to pray,” Thompson recalled. “It is my faith that has gotten me through this journey.”

Thompson added that her infant granddaughter, Magnolia Jean, has been a huge help too—whether she knows it or not. “It is her cuddles and kisses that have gotten me through the worst of my days,” she said. 

Thompson said one of the hardest things was all of the appointments she had to make right away—with an oncologist, with a breast surgeon and for chemotherapy—while she was still trying to process the diagnosis. She said the Women’s Diagnostic Center made everything easier.

“They were absolutely wonderful because they…directed me where to go next and what to do next,” she explained. 

Thompson’s treatment plan includes 20 weeks of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. 

 “I’ve stayed within the Piedmont system and that has been wonderful. Everybody has access to my records and can work together. And, so, I’ve got a really strong team,” Thompson said.

Cancer awareness was an important cause to Thompson and her husband, even before her diagnosis, since female cancers run in her family. So, the Thompsons have participated in Relay for Life events with the American Cancer Society in Newton County for years. Two years ago, they even took on formal leadership roles with the organization. 

“We believe in the cause and we believe in the cure, and now I’m reaping the benefits of that,” she said.

Now, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Thompson has one message she wants to spread: “Get your mammogram. If there is any woman in your life that you love, tell her, remind her. Because if I had not gone in for a mammogram, then it [the cancer] could have been a lot further progressed before it was ever discovered.”

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