MIDDLESBORO — While the rain poured and lightning flashed outside, Maggie paced anxiously, tapping her heels across the hardwood floor. She was waiting for her husband Michael to get home. He was an hour late. While Maggie paced, she thought about how they would celebrate her birthday. Maggie didn’t feel 40 and as she gazed in a nearby mirror, she didn’t think she looked 40. Still, Maggie knew she had officially moved into that decade where she had to focus more on her health.
For the past month, Michael had been reminding Maggie to make an appointment for her first mammogram screening. However, she had not made the call. The thought of having it done frightened her.
Suddenly Maggie heard a car in the driveway and ran to open the door. The rain had stopped and there was Michael stepping onto the porch, holding a large white box with layers of bright, pink ribbons.
“Happy Birthday Maggie,” Michael said as he placed the box in her hands and kissed her cheek. “I’m sorry I’m late. The weather delayed my flight.”
“It’s OK, you’re home safe and that’s all that matters,” Maggie said as she walked back into the living room eager to open the box.
As she untied the pink ribbons and flung open the box, the leather coat she had been wanting for her birthday pushed its way through the pink tissue. Maggie smiled at Michael and quickly put on the coat.
As she admired herself in the mirror, her husband replied, “You look beautiful. Now, check the left pocket.”
Maggie slid her hand into the pocket and pulled out a note. She glanced at Michael with a puzzled look then read: “Sweetheart, I’m giving you this coat to protect you from the cold, and I’m taking you for your first mammogram to protect your health. I want to share a long and happy life with you. Much love, Michael. P.S. Your appointment is Friday at 11 a.m.”
Touched by the note, Maggie threw her arms around her husband’s neck and hugged him. He was right. She needed to get a mammogram. Maggie smiled as she realized just how much he wanted to protect her.
How many of you have been putting off scheduling a mammogram? Don’t wait any longer, talk to your doctor. Early detection of breast cancer can save lives. If you are 40 or older, talk to your doctor about scheduling regular screenings.
Also if you have a family history of breast cancer, you should share this information with your physician. Charlotte Wilder was only 18 years old when she found a lump in her breast.
“When I was a senior in high school, I found a lump in my left breast and was terrified,” shared Wilder. “My mom took me to see a doctor who ordered my first mammogram screening. The doctor said the lump was the size of an egg and advised that it should be removed.”
Wilder’s physician performed a lumpectomy and sent the tissue to a pathologist to be analyzed. Fortunately, the pathologist determined the lump was benign and no further surgery was necessary.
“I was so relieved that it wasn’t cancer,” Wilder said. “When my doctor told me that I needed to do monthly self-exams and have regular screenings, I understood how important it was to do exactly what he said. I had an aunt who died of breast cancer, and my doctor explained that I was at a much higher risk than most women my age.”
Wilder continued to follow her physician’s orders, having regular mammogram screenings. This year, however, Wilder had her first digital mammogram screening at her local ARH hospital.
“I was amazed at how clear the digital images were on the computer screen,” shared Wilder. “I am very impressed with the quality of the digital mammography equipment at the ARH Hospital.”
Wilder also noted that the radiology staff was kind and compassionate during her visit.
“I appreciate the kindness and patience shown by the ARH staff who took such excellent care of me,” stated Wilder. “They answered all my questions and even made me feel at ease during the exam. I strongly encourage anyone needing a mammogram to ask your doctor for an order and get a digital screening at your local ARH Hospital.”
Elaine L. Smith is the Middlesboro ARH Hospital community and patient advocate.