By Cheryl Eash
It’s October and we see pink ribbons everywhere for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s all too easy to think that Breast Cancer only happens to other women—until it happens to you. And it’s all too easy to skip your yearly mammogram—unless you are a patient of Ft. Jesse Imaging. They won’t let you “forget” or “make excuses.” And because of their dedication, my breast cancer was discovered at a very early stage when it was very treatable.
Ten years ago, I got the little pink postcard in the mail reminding me that it was time to schedule my yearly mammogram. I set the postcard aside and added “schedule mammogram” to my to-do list. I don’t know why, but I just kept putting off making that simple phone call. I’d look at my calendar and tell myself that I had a really busy month ahead, I’d make that call later. A couple weeks later, I saw “Ft. Jesse” on my caller ID and I was in the middle of doing something, so I let it go to voice mail. They left a message that it was time to schedule my mammogram, please call them back at 309-454-5552.
A week later, they called again and I let it go to voice mail. I was thinking to myself that I could skip it for one year. I had a lot going on and didn’t want to take the time (although the truth is that at Ft. Jesse, I’ve never had to wait and it takes less than an hour from the minute you walk in the door). My mind continued rationalizing… I’ve had mammograms every year for the past 10 years and they’ve never shown a thing… I have no family history of breast cancer… I’m healthy, I feel great… yep, I could certainly skip it for one year. No need to call them back.
They called a third time and I felt bad that I hadn’t called back, so I answered the phone—thinking that I would just tell her that I was going to skip it this year. The person on the line was super friendly and cheerful and when I was actually talking to a real live person (not an e-mail, not a text message) it sounded pretty lame to say out loud, “oh – I’m really busy, I’m going to skip my mammogram this year.” So I had my mammogram a week later. But then I got a call that they wanted me to come back for additional images. I was actually not worried at all, just a bit annoyed that I had to come back AGAIN.
Well, long story short, my mammogram showed a suspicious spot that I needed to have checked out. I have very dense breasts, so spots are easy to miss. But they had compared it to my previous mammograms and noticed a change. Sure enough—it was a cancerous tumor. For any woman who has gotten this news, you know that it’s simply a shock. You don’t expect it. You quickly enter the seemingly never-ending world of appointments with oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, and plastic surgeons. And there often isn’t a clear answer as to what the “best” treatment is. Each woman’s situation is different and there are a lot of choices to make—none of them “right” or “wrong.”
Almost every day I think about how my life might be different if I had waited a year to let that very aggressive little tumor grow. Thanks to Ft. Jesse, my cancer was detected in the very early stages and after weighing the pros and cons of my various treatment options, I chose to have a lumpectomy. If you are tempted to skip your mammogram—don’t. It’s a simple procedure, it doesn’t hurt, it takes less than an hour—and it just might save your breast—or even your life.
Ft. Jesse Imaging & Gale Keeran Center for women, located at 2200 Ft Jesse Rd. in Normal, fulfills the community’s diagnostic imaging needs, in a calm outpatient setting, with outpatient rates. They offer PET/CT, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Xray, Mammography, Bone Density, and ABUS. With up-to-date technology, specialty trained radiologists, and ease of access, they strive to offer physicians and patients a superior experience. You may call them at 309-454-5552, visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FtJesseImaging, or online at www.ftjesse.com.