Self-examination helped woman find cancer early

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Carol Wagner, Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Michelle Frechette is a breast cancer survivor. She is shown with, from left, back row, her son Garrison, husband, Gary, son Bode; front row, sons Logan and Aloysius. A daughter, Marina, is away at college.

In December 2014, Michelle Frechette found breast cancer from a self-examination. It was a very small lump that had already spread to her lymph nodes. She recalled how she got the news in a phone call.

“I stopped mopping the bathroom floor and took a deep breath,” she said.

Frechette, a school social worker at Menominee Indian High School, was encouraged that it was found early and she was young and healthy. Her health team gave her several tests.

“They wanted to be sure they administered the right treatment,” she said.

Surgery removed the cancer cells and affected lymph nodes. Frechette had chemotherapy to be sure she was clear of cancer and then six weeks of radiation.

“They were very positive with their treatment plans,” she said.

During chemo, Frechette lost her hair. Two of her co-workers, Bob Smith and Sara Phillips, shaved their heads because they didn’t want her to be alone.

“It was so touching,” she said. “It was really cool. I used to complain about my hair, but not any more.”

Frechette was very grateful that her husband, Gary, a software developer at WEC Group in Green Bay, and her best friend, Carrie Waukau, came to all her consultation appointments.

“They heard things I might not remember in the moment,” she said.

The family lives in Shawano. Frechette said the couple’s children, Marina, 18, Garrison, 17, Bode, 11, Aloysius, 7, and Logan, 6, were busy with their activities and, while being concerned, rolled with the punches.

Now she has a mammogram, hormone therapy and blood work every six months. There is no history of breast cancer in Frechette’s family and she never smoked. She said she thought she did all the things she was supposed to do to avoid the disease.

“Just because you think you’re not at risk doesn’t mean you’re not at risk,” she said.

Frechette will again take part Saturday in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Lambeau Field. The walk is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.