I turned 40 this year. Let me say, I celebrated turning 40. There is a peace that came with it, that is hard to explain. An overwhelming feeling that I was finally in charge of life. What I was doing, where I was going, how to advocate for myself. It was all there.
I have been aware for a while now that I am at high risk for breast cancer. It runs on both sides of my family and that’s not something that will ever change. I am aware of it, I acknowledge it and as I get older I have to be responsible for checking for it. It’s that little voice in the back of my head. I might be healthy today, but what about tomorrow? I check for myself often…but more importantly, I check for my boys.
I was able to visit the Norma E. & Miles M. Zisson Comprehensive Breast Center of the Palm Beaches at Good Samaritan Medical Center and sat down with center manager Colleen Campbell.
The first thing I noticed about Colleen is how friendly and warm she was, and how proud she was to show me and talk about her facility. My previous experience at imaging centers was to feel like a number. In and out as fast as they could… I was immediately struck that this center was different. It was not simply about imaging. It was about the patient as a whole person.
Of course as women, we hear every year at our OB/GYN appointment that we should be checking ourselves for lumps and bumps…but what does that really mean? Younger me wanted to get that part of the exam over as fast as possible, but now as I’m older I have questions that I know I need to listen to the answers. I was able to ask Colleen some of those questions, that maybe you’ve been wondering too.
1) At what age is it recommended that a woman gets a mammogram? Who should they ask to get one?
Without a family history of breast cancer all women should start with a routine screening Mammogram at the age of 40, with a family history at the age of 35.
2) What should someone expect during their first mammogram?
With experienced team members a mammogram should be uncomfortable in the sense that it is considered an intimate exam, like going to the OB/GYN the first time. If the right person is explaining and performing the procedure during the exam it helps. There is some pressure but it should not be a painful experience at all. As a matter of fact I’ve been doing this so long that I have a lot of GYN’s that referrer their baseline mammogram patients to me personally for this very reason. It really helps to let the technologist know that this is your first mammogram.
3) If a woman doesn’t have insurance, what should they do to decrease the cost of a mammogram?
If you do not have insurance most facilities have cash pay prices that are very competitive, especially around Mother’s Day and October. Again, stay close to the Hospital based programs, (outpatient facilities that are associated w/ Hospitals. They offer more qualified and experienced staff. With insurance Annual Routine Mammograms are covered 100%, W/O insurance w/ offer competitive cash pay pricing. At our outpatient facilities the reading fee(radiologist) is also included.
4) If a lump is found, what is the first thing someone should do?
Mark the area with a marker and call your doctor to make an appointment. You will need to know the date of your last period and approximately how long the lump has been there.
5) How is your facility different from others in the area?
I would like to say our facility sets us apart because we are passionate about what we do and who we do it for. We all have a story. I chose my team based on their experience and passion and compassion. In the Breast Cancer world it’s not about the job we do, it’s about the people we do it for, our families, our community, our facility.
I want my staff to feel satisfied every day that we do what’s right! To lay our heads down on the pillow every night and feel like you made a difference, even if it’s one person that’s all it takes. That’s why we chose the medical field, I believe it’s a path. My staff wants to work with me on my mission to help these women and their families.