Monday, May 16, 2022, 10 a.m. — It’s time for my annual mammogram.
I arrived at the breast centre, checked in, sat down and the nurse called my name. I walked through the door and turned right, as I have done for 13 years. The nurse redirects me to go straight. I’m starting to worry.
I was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in 2008. This is the stage where the atypical cells have not spread outside the ducts or lobules of the breast tissue.
Every year my mammogram has been a diagnostic mammogram, so I thought.
When we entered the mammogram room, I asked, “Why am I in another room?” She informed me that I had to have a 3D screening mammogram.
Over the past 13 years, I’ve had my mammogram, seen my breast surgeon, received the good news of being cancer-free, and celebrated. This year was different. I was discharged from my breast surgeon last year.
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When and why did I go from diagnosis to screening? What is the difference? After a few days of asking questions and researching, here’s what I found.
2D, 3D and diagnostic mammography are performed by the same machine. The images are sliced and diced according to what the doctor orders.
With each type of mammogram, the radiologist will have more pictures and details to determine if further tests are needed, such as an ultrasound, MRI, or biopsy.
How was my cancer diagnosed? I had my annual screening in November 2007. I received a call. I was told that my mammogram was abnormal and that I needed a diagnostic mammogram.
I programmed the diagnosis and the results revealed three areas of concern in my right breast. I had a breast biopsy in January 2008 and received my diagnosis.
Fortunately, my health insurance paid for my services. Not all women are lucky enough to have this coverage.
The anxiety and stress of going through each step was enormous. If I had to fight with the insurance company for payment or pay for the expenses myself, it would have been crippling. You want immediate answers and the cancer out of your body!
With the recent passage of House Bill 3504, every woman will have access to health care benefits for a diagnostic mammogram.
Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, and Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, co-authored this bill. It passed in the House 86-0 and in the Senate 38-4. Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill May 20.
Statistics show that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Diagnostic mammograms detect cancer. The earlier the detection, the earlier the treatment begins, the higher the survival rate.
With bipartisan support, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has commissioned research, and through organizations like The Stonebrook Project, we can make a difference until there is a cure.
The diagnostic mammogram literally saved my life.
I am very grateful to Representative Provenzano, Senator Stanley, the 118 Representatives and Senators who voted yes. This bill will really make a difference for women facing breast cancer.
Edie Tolbert is the founder and executive director of The Stonebrook Project Inc., a Catoosa-based nonprofit organization that provides free oncology massage therapy at Stonebrook Day Spa, Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, and Northeastern Oklahoma Cancer Institute. .