Just three months after her husband, TV and radio personality Howard Stern, revealed his own rattling cancer scare, Beth Stern, 47, shared yesterday that she, too, has just been through a nerve-wracking six months. Stern is one of 10 percent of all women who get called back for further testing after a mammogram, and while 80 percent of those women—including Stern—end up being totally fine, the experience is no less anxiety-inducing.
In addition to being Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, is perhaps best known for rescuing kittens—and usually, her 510,000 Instagram followers exclusively see cuddly cat content. But yesterday, Stern took a break from her constant stream of cuddly kitten posts to share this important message on her Instagram: she had just been through a breast cancer scare, and while it turned out ok, the experience made her realize just how important it is to be vigilant about routine screenings for breast cancer.
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Not a kitten post. I went in for an annual mammogram 6 months ago and they found 1/2 inch growth that needed to be rechecked in 6 months. Today was my recheck and it didn’t increase in size. I was a nervous wreck for the past 6 months. A very dear friend of mine recently had a double mastectomy so this was extra sensitive. Mine fortunately hasn’t grown and is just a Fibroadenoma. I just want to tell all of you amazing women out there..get your yearly mammograms. Not a cute kitten post but a little dose of reality and i think you are all important and worthy and want you to be here as long as you can… love you all. #loveourboobies #ourmenlovethemtoo ♥️ Thank you, Dr. David Agus.
“Not a kitten post,” was how Stern, who is also an actress and model, began the Instagram caption below a bikini photo of herself. “I went in for an annual mammogram 6 months ago and they found 1/2 inch growth that needed to be rechecked in 6 months. Today was my recheck and it didn’t increase in size. I was a nervous wreck for the past 6 months. A very dear friend of mine recently had a double mastectomy so this was extra sensitive. Mine, fortunately, hasn’t grown and is just a Fibroadenoma. I just want to tell all of you amazing women out there… get your yearly mammograms. Not a cute kitten post but a little dose of reality and I think you are all important and worthy and want you to be here as long as you can… love you all. #loveourboobies#ourmenlovethemtoo ♥️ Thank you, Dr. David Agus.”
(A “fibroadenoma” is a non-cancerous cyst or breast lump).
In the day since it’s been up, Stern’s post has received over 42,000 likes and nearly 2,000 comments — many of which include followers thanking Stern for spreading the word and sharing their own experiences with breast cancer scares.
“Early detection saved my life!” wrote one follower. Others added a bit of humor; one wrote, “If you don’t check the titties, you can’t save the kitties!”
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“I Was a Nervous Wreck” — It’s Ok to Feel Anxiety When You’re Called Back After A Mammogram
When Beth Stern wrote in her Instagram caption, “I was a nervous wreck,” she captured an extremely common emotion; it’s totally normal to feel emotional when you’re called back in for further breast cancer screening tests after a mammogram. Even when everything turns out to be ok, the experience is scary, and the nerves are warranted.
According to Dr. Connie Lehman, Chief of Breast Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, 10 percent of all women who go in for mammograms get called back.
“The vast majority of that 10 percent of women called back do not have breast cancer,” Dr. Lehman told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation about further testing. She went on to explain that getting called back often just means that the doctors need a better image to see an area where there may be, for instance, breast calcifications (which could be a sign of any number of things—most of which are not cancer).
Dr. Lehman said that of the women who get called back for more testing, 80 percent are “absolutely fine.” The other 20 percent may need a breast biopsy as well, and only about a quarter of those people will have cancer.
But the fact that the experience of getting called back after a mammogram is so common does not make it any less scary—nor should it.
“We understand the anxiety that screening for breast cancer can cause,” Dr. Lehman said. “And we understand the impact when a woman either gets that phone call or receives that letter saying we found something on your mammogram.”
Facing the Possibility of Cancer — Husband and Wife Now Share the Experience of Fear
Beth Stern is not alone in experiencing a terrifying cancer scare. Indeed, her famous husband Howard recently revealed that he had been “scared s–tless” after doctors found a growth on his kidney in 2016. Luckily, the growth turned out to be a harmless cyst, but the possibility that it was cancer led Stern to tell Hollywood Reporter, “All I’m thinking is, ‘I’m going to die,’ And I’m scared sh–less.”
That was the moment, Stern said, when he realized that he “had to figure out how to spend the rest of my life, however long that might be.”