Brooke Harrison’s mom was a mammography tech as Brooke was growing up and was an advocate of preventative care. When Brooke turned 40 in August, her mom encouraged her to get her first mammogram. Although Brooke’s family does not have a history of breast cancer, her mom had often seen women without family history receive a cancer diagnosis. It reinforced time and again, the importance of screenings.
As a busy, full-time professional in healthcare and the mother of three young children, Brooke added it to her list of things she needed to do. She had no concerns about her health but had her order from her annual exam and knew it was important. With the holidays coming up, time passed, and the mammogram slipped her mind and moved farther down on her to do list. After the first of the year, Brooke’s mom firmly reminded Brooke to make her appointment. In February 2020, Brooke had her first mammogram at Wood County Hospital’s Women’s Center.
“It is not something that I was looking forward to and was apprehensive of the overall experience. I was nervous that it would be uncomfortable,” said Brooke.
Cheryl Lance, WCH ultrasound tech, performed the screening. Brooke felt Cheryl was extremely professional, warm and reassuring as she explained every detail during the exam. After the images were complete, Cheryl showed Brooke some areas of concern and stated that the radiologist would read the results and be in contact. Brooke’s mom had prepared her and told her they usually need a baseline, and that it is common to need to come back for another screening.
“I was not prepared to hear the results the doctor shared with me. With the 3-D imaging, the radiologist discovered an enclosed tumor that I would never have felt. I never thought for a second that this could happen to me.”
It was a difficult few months for Brooke to process her diagnosis. “Moving forward, I realized the importance of telling those close to me and reaching out to those I cared about. I called all of my friends from college and only one of them had their first mammogram. My challenge to them was an important one – get your screening, NOW,” Brooke said.
“I feel lucky that they caught mine early, and I’m hopeful that after my surgeries, I’ll be cancer-free. “Don’t wait,” is my message. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and my takeaway is that breast cancer does not have to take your life. A mammogram is easy and accessible. Waiting too long could be the difference between life and death.”
The past few months we have all tried to maintain social distancing and wear masks to protect ourselves. But, since the pandemic started, the number of new cancer diagnoses for six common cancers has declined. Breast cancer diagnosis has declined as much as 51% according to research. Unfortunately, cancer has not paused. There are many cases not being detected due to delayed mammograms and screenings. It is essential not to put them off. The screenings can detect cancer early and improve outcomes.
Talk to your doctor about when it is right for you to start getting your mammograms. To schedule an appointment for a mammogram with our Women’s Center, call (419) 354-8743.
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