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Get a mammogram for you and your family

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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I got my first mammogram last Thursday after my daughters urged me to take better care of myself. Even though I dread anything related to cancer, I put off having this X-Ray for 10 years. I was scared that the mammogram would make me feel as if I was wedged between two-ton elevator doors for hours. Then I thought of how hard my friend Linda has fought every day since October to succeed in her battle against breast cancer. And this is Linda’s second time. The first time she was diagnosed with breast cancer was 10 years ago. Every week now, I see Linda face her adversity head on with courage and determination so she can soon return to a normal schedule. The popular Lincoln Hills resident has multiple social commitments planned almost daily. She’s the one who always gives the soothing advice, the one we go to when we want someone to listen to our problems. She’s a people magnet; after joining Facebook a few months ago, she attracted 100 friends within a few days. Linda is constantly on the go. She isn’t used to worrying whether she’ll have enough strength during chemo weeks to attend events. Yet the chemo this time around has zapped her energy. Since the chemo and radiation treatments will help Linda be cancer free in the decades to come, however, Linda knows she has no other choice than to brave the treatments. Linda was my role model last week at my mammogram visit. Watching Linda struggle these days to remain positive, how could I validate what Linda faces daily if I didn’t take a mere half hour out of my life to look after my own health? So I anxiously walked into the Sutter Diagnostic and Women’s Imaging Center last Thursday, scared that I would pass out from the mammogram. And I walked out 30 minutes later feeling amazingly empowered by respecting my health. I’m not the only one initially afraid of mammograms. “Lots of people are scared,” said Chris Braun, Roseville’s Sutter Diagnostic and Women’s Imaging Center operations manager. “We know it’s an emotional time. Our technicians love serving the women and the men we see. They take the time to deal with the emotional side as well as the physical side. For those who it hurts, a mammogram takes seconds and it can save lives. If it’s uncomfortable, it’s just for a couple of seconds. Do it for your family; do it for your kids.” The center, relocating Dec. 1 from the Breast Health Center in Roseville, went from one to three full-field digital mammography machines. Braun calls them the “latest” state-of-the-art machines. While the center did about 10 mammograms a day before December, according to Braun, between 30 and 40 mammograms a day are now done. The center is set up to perform 100 mammograms a day. “We’re thrilled. We’re getting women who’ve never had a screening or haven’t had their annual screening in years,” Braun said. “Women need to have their annual screening every year – that’s the way we’ll catch breast cancers at an early stage. If we’re going to catch a breast cancer and have a good outcome for the patient, we have to catch it early. There’s a much better chance of a cure if you find a cancer early.” Braun advises against skipping the annual screenings. “If you go many years in between, a small little cancer could grow and spread to other parts of the body,” Braun said. “The outcome might not be as good. The treatment would be much more aggressive if the cancer was worse.” These screenings typically start at age 40. “Most important advice, No. 1, make sure every woman in your life is coming in to have an annual screening mammogram,” Braun said. “For us, the most important thing is the patient needs to go to their physician so they can have a physical breast exam by their physician and then the physician can order the mammogram. That’s the best. Mammography is still the gold standard for detecting breast cancer.” To schedule a mammogram at Sutter Diagnostic and Women’s Imaging Center, call 865-1444 or toll free (877) 515-0053. Carol Feineman can be reached at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com