Annual mammogram screenings can cause stress and worry for many women, but especially for breast cancer survivors. Often, this annual event brings a mix of emotions from their initial diagnosis to relief that they’re cancer-free for another year. At Wake Radiology, we work diligently to put all of our mammogram patients at ease, paying careful attention to the anxiety this exam can cause — no matter if it’s a woman’s first mammogram or their 20-year remission anniversary. This approach is why Laura Dowd’s continues to have her annual mammogram at our Chapel Hill office.
At 35, while performing a self examination, Laura found a lump in her breast. Although it was small, she instantly knew it was not supposed to be there. Laura was living in the Greensboro area and immediately made an appointment with her local healthcare provider. Laura’s doctor told her that with no family history, she was too young to be at risk and to come back in six months.
Six months later, during her re-evaluation, Laura’s small lump had turned into invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer. Laura was devastated and infuriated. She wished she had listened to her instincts. Within three days of her breast cancer diagnosis, Laura had a lumpectomy and was scheduled to begin chemotherapy and radiation.
“I wish I’d pushed for a mammogram when I first found the lump. Months later, after my diagnosis, I felt bullied into my treatment path,” Laura said. “But, I was a young mother with young children and wanted to do everything I could.”
As a survivor, annual mammograms are an essential part of Laura’s ongoing care plan. And, waiting for the results remains completely nerve-racking.
Seven years after her cancer diagnosis and during her annual screening, Laura was told that she would have to start waiting two weeks to receive her results. Her care provider was adopting a new internal process for sharing mammogram reports. In fact, even on her 10-year anniversary, her previous doctor refused to expedite her results. She was worried, irritated and felt like her care team didn’t understand the anxiety, stress and fear that was tied to this annual survivor milestone.
Feeling defeated, Laura shared her experience with a friend who suggested she consider having her next mammogram at Wake Radiology.
“Going to Wake Radiology was a night and day experience compared to where I used to go,” said Laura. “Now, I won’t go anywhere else. Everyone is so nice and really works to put you at ease.”
After two years, Laura is still having her mammograms performed at Wake Radiology. She’s had both 2D and 3D diagnostic mammograms at the Chapel Hill office.
“Because of my insurance, having a 3D mammogram is a little more expensive. But, I believe it’s a lot more accurate,” Laura says. “I can’t imagine why anyone would turn down a 3D mammogram and the level of detail it provides, especially when you can have it done at a place where the people really care about you and your diagnosis.”
At Wake Radiology, mammograms, whether traditional or 3D, are performed by certified mammography technologists and interpreted by specially trained radiologists. For Laura, their care, compassion and concern are unmatched.
“Since I started at Wake Radiology, I’ve always gone to the office in Chapel Hill. The staff there totally understands the worry that comes when a breast cancer survivor goes in for their annual diagnostic mammogram and then the anxiety around waiting for results,” said Laura. “They work with me through the exam and the radiologist shares my results with me before I leave the office. I don’t feel like I’m ‘a number’ whose part of slow two-week process.”
Laura tried Wake Radiology because of a referral, but stayed because of the quality and compassion of her care team. “I hope my story will encourage women to advocate for themselves and seek out the respect and dependable guidance they deserve when it comes to their own healthcare.”
At Wake Radiology, our mammography technologists — some of whom are breast cancer survivors themselves — understand the fears that can surround annual mammogram screenings. We do all we can to put every patient at ease. If you have reason to believe you need a mammogram, as Laura did, talk with your doctor. Or, if you’re over 40, we encourage you to consider having your next mammogram at one of our dedicated breast imaging centers located in Chapel Hill, Cary, Garner, Morrisville, Smithfield, Wake Forest and in multiple locations throughout Raleigh.
To schedule your next mammogram at Wake Radiology, simply request an appointment online or call us at 919-232-4700.