CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Breast cancer is generally thought of an older woman's disease, but Amanda Hibberts, of Gastonia, is living proof that that thought process is wrong.
Amanda's mother had breast cancer in her forties, so early screening was something she knew she would have to go through. At the age of 33, something in her first mammogram concerned doctors. After two years of tests, needle biopsies, and lumpectomies, Hibberts had a realization, "just get rid of them." When a surgeon also suggested the double mastectomy, even though it was a hard decision, knew it what she needed to do.
So, just 14 days after her 35th birthday, Amanda Hibberts had a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction as a purely preventable measure, or so she thought.
Hibberts and doctors were floored when they biopsied her breasts to find an 8 mm mass that was missed by biopsies, MRIs, and mammograms. Without a doubt, she says she "made the right choice." The surgery saved her life.
Amanda just finished her 11th reconstruction surgery. She says she made the decision, ultimately, for her kids and so she wouldn't live in fear of cancer.
Amanda admits, "Cancer made me a better person." She says this experience made her more patient and empathetic, "You never know what a person is going through, until you know what a person is going through."
Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, and Sharon Osbourne have shed light on having a preventative double mastectomy on a national level, but Hibberts felt like it was her job to bring attention to it on a local level. She became outspoken about her decision, her surgeries, and scars. She says she wants to be "a voice for silent suffers who are afraid to speak out."
She found some women are afraid of talking about their cancer for fear of being stigmatized or being deemed unhireable.
Helping women has become her passion. She has women call her as a confidant. Hibberts knows women who have lived through treatment without telling people about their diagnosis and says she can't imagine not having support from her friends as she went through her journey.
At the end of the day, Hibberts says her purpose is to encourage employers and companies to let their employees know that they will support women and men who are diagnosed with cancer and other diseases.