HealthWatch: Mammograms save lives

Health Watch

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  One local breast cancer survivor wants to share her newly found awareness about just how important mammograms are to surviving breast cancer.

Green Bay’s Elaine Writt went in for her routine mammogram last year, keeping up with her routine healthcare even with a pandemic looming.  

“What if I didn’t? I don’t know if I would be here talking to you,” Writt said.

This wife and mother of two still gets emotional thinking of how close she came to not being a breast cancer survivor

“Honestly, I could start crying because that could be a possibility,” Whitt said. “What if I just blew it off and said ‘Oh there’s a pandemic going on.’”

That’s right, Writt had a routine mammogram scheduled just as the pandemic was beginning to take hold.

“They called and said, ‘We’re going to reschedule it.’ because that was when they were just doing emergency or medically necessary procedures,” Writt explained. 

Writt followed through with her rescheduled mammogram appointment, staying on top of her regular healthcare appointments. But many patients do not, puttng off annual screenings during the pandemic, perhaps thinking self-breast exams would suffice until next year.

“Oftentimes breast cancer is diagnosed before a lump can be felt,” said Diane Haszel, a nurse navigator with Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

As a nurse navigator, Haszel works with breast cancer patients every day, including Elaine.  Haszel knows all too well the dangers of skipping annual mammograms.

“It could easily turn into a stage three or four without knowing it,” Hazel explained, using Writt as an example. “She didn’t feel anything. It was found on a mammogram.”

It was that rescheduled mammogram that detected Writt’s’s breast cancer.

“She’s so thankful that she found this early,” Hazel said.

Thanks to early detection, Writt’s breast cancer could be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  She still gets checked every three months and says she is grateful to be a survivor.  Writt says she hopes her story serves to remind other women how important it is to keep up with annual screenings.

“It’s even more important for everybody to go and get screened and have a mammogram, pandemic or no pandemic,” Writt said, “because how are you going to know unless you have a mammogram? You’re not going to know.” 

If you’d like to find out your risk for developing breast cancer, Aurora BayCare has a way to do that from the comfort of your own home with their online risk assessment tool, Gail Model. 

To learn more, visit aurorabaycare.com or use their LiveWell app. You can always just give them a call too: 1-866-938-0035 or email: healthwatch@aurorabaycare.com

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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