It is easy to get so caught up in our daily routine and duties of caring for others that we overlook our own needs sometimes. That was certainly the case for Carol Bledsoe. In this particular case, listening to her heart might have saved her life.
After a hospital stay in the spring of 2019 at Self Regional Healthcare, Carol went for a follow-up appointment with Dr. Sawyer at Family Healthcare South Saluda. When she went in for her appointment, she noticed a big, bright pink bus in the parking lot. It was the Mobile Mammography Unit of SRH. She thought to herself, “If it’s out there when I come back, I’m going to get a mammogram.” Her last screening was more than five years prior, and while her previous mammograms had all been clear, she knew the importance of yearly screenings. As she finished up her appointment with Dr. Sawyer, she walked past the mobile unit again on the way to her car. She felt drawn to go inside, but she was fighting what her heart was telling her. Thankfully, when she reached her car, she decided to turn around and go onto the bus.
Carol had no appointment scheduled that day for a mammogram. She walked onto the bus anyway. She was pleasantly surprised by a friendly and familiar face, Cassie Cantu, who is Self Regional’s Mobile Mammography coordinator and Breast Health Navigator, and also a family friend of Carol’s. Within 20 minutes, Carol’s registration paperwork was complete, her mammogram screening was finished and she was on her way back home.
“Out of sight, out of mind. You think you get to a certain age and nothing will happen…that’s just when it does,” Carol said. Many barriers that hinder women from yearly breast screenings were removed that day by the Mobile Mammography Unit. The visible reminder of that big pink bus, the convenience of a walk-in appointment, the on-site location offered to outlying counties and a timely visit of less than 30 minutes spent completing the screening process. Cantu said “That’s what the mobile service is all about. I mean, it’s putting it in places that people say ‘I have no excuse, I’ve got to do this.’ Twenty minutes in and out.”
Carol’s images were reviewed by a dedicated Breast Imager and she received follow-up care through diagnostic imaging and a breast biopsy. The breast biopsy revealed Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Early detection is the best protection. Finding this disease in an early stage proves to have excellent prognosis. “Had I not had my mammogram right then, it would have been much worse,” Carol said.
Screening mammograms may detect other breast abnormalities that signal providers to closely monitor patients. In many cases, that disease is found in an atypical, or pre-cancerous stage, and chemoprevention is given with intentions of drastically reducing a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Screenings start at age 40 and are recommended to continue on an annual basis for a woman’s lifetime.
Carol’s grandmother also had breast cancer. It is very important to Carol, now, to encourage her daughter to be proactive and have yearly screenings.
“I’m just thankful for it,” Carol said. “I’m very thankful Cassie was there that day and she has kept in touch with me.”
For information on the Mobile Mammography Unit, visit selfregional.org/mobilemammo.