How Early Detection and Humor Helped Angie Mentink Survive Breast Cancer

  • October 18, 2018

    A busy mom with a big-league job, Angie Mentink had competing thoughts running through her brain when it came to her own health.

    “I know I’m fine, but what if I wasn’t?” she wondered.

    At age 44, the ROOT SPORTS broadcaster decided to use leftover money from her flexible spending account to get a mammogram. She didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. But her doctor suggested it, and it seemed like the smart thing to do.

    When the doctor ordered a biopsy after seeing something unusual in her results, she started to get nervous. She worked the Seattle Mariners game that night, as usual, and tried to keep herself busy.

    “Those things happen to other people. I’m healthy,” she told herself.

    On the day she expected her biopsy results, she set her phone just outside the shower so she wouldn’t miss the call. The phone rang and she dried off one ear, within seconds she realized she needed to find a pen and paper to write down what she was hearing.

    The results weren’t good. It was cancer.

    Shocked by the news, she wandered naked into the room where her husband was sitting. He asked her what was wrong. The news spilled out, along with an apology.

    “I looked at him and said, ‘I’m sorry,’” she recalled. “You feel like somehow you messed up.”

    The lifelong athlete also felt betrayed by her body. Angie was an All-American softball player at the University of Washington and a professional baseball player with the Colorado Silver Bullets. “You want your body to perform and do what it’s supposed to do. When it doesn’t, it’s really strange,” she said.

    She tweeted her diagnosis before the Mariners game that night. The response was swift and supportive. Angie took a rare night off and watched the game from home. In the stands, fans held signs that said #AngieStrong and her fellow broadcasters shared words of support. The Mariners signed a pink bat for her, now displayed on her mantle.

    All the support helped Angie and her family cope. Humor helped too.

    “I’m so tired of talking about my boobs,” she joked. “You’ve got to keep your sense of humor about it. Otherwise it can be all consuming.”

    After radiation treatment in late 2017, Angie is cancer-free. She continues to take tamoxifen to block cancer growth and gets regular checkups to make sure she’s still in the clear.

    She credits early detection for her positive outcome. Her message to other women is this: “Be like me. Be the person that went in.”

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 50-74 with average breast cancer risk receive a mammogram every two years. Before age 50, women should talk to their doctor about the specific benefits and risks of breast cancer screening.

    “We make sure our kids have the right hat and the socks they like for baseball practice. We’re the ones who know how to butter their toast perfectly,” Angie said. “We do all these things for all these people. But if something happens to us, we can’t do that.”

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