She and her mother, Grace Young, had a mammogram day. “It is important for my mother and I to encourage women to have mammograms,” Cindy said.
Cindy likes to face any fear head on, and she said so many women are afraid of mammograms - either of the discomfort of the procedure or of the possible diagnosis that could result. “People are so scared of it,” she said, so she wanted to do something to help others lose their fear and take charge of their own health.
A Fuquay-Varina Town Council member, Cindy is used to asking hard questions. “Information is power,” she said. The more information we have about anything, especially our own health, will give us more power to make good decisions.
She said she was not nervous about having her fist mammorgram at age 41. She had done plenty of research and asked her doctor of more than 13 years, Dr. Mark Zimmerman, OB/GYN, plenty of questions. She knew what to expect. Her mother, age 63, has a mammogram yearly. “I lost my best friend to stomach cancer. Other cancers are so much more treatable. There are tests for skin, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer. Why not get the tests?” Cindy said.
Dr. Zimmerman agreed. When asked about including information in this report, he said, “I think this is a great way to reach women on that side of the county and am happy to assist in any way I can. Like the man throwing star fish back into the ocean after the storm, all we need to do is save one at a time to make a good start.”
He said women can do a lot to take care for themselves so that if there is a problem, it can be caught early. “We recommend that most women have their first or baseline mammogram between the age of 35-40 and begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. For women at high risk including a first degree relative (mother, sister, father, brother) with breast cancer that they begin annual screening mammograms at age 30. ”
Madeline Cervone (RT) (M) mammogram technician for Rex Hospital performed the mammograms for Cindy and Grace at Rex in Cary. The mammograms are digital and give a clear image of what is happening in a woman’s breast. Madeline said that they will be able to procide diagnostic mammograms at that site as of this month. In the past, they would have to send women to Rex Hospital for further diagnosis if a problem was indicated on the mammogram. Now, they will have quicker results because of the new equipment.
Dr. Zimmerman said that reports from the mammogram are sent to the referring physician. Follow up and further studies are usually handled by the reporting radiologist although they sometimes contact the referring physician for approval. “We follow up with patients unless they are contacted directly by the reporting radiologist,” he said.
Madeline said she spends as much time with each patient as possible to make sure they are informed about the mammogram. “You have to believe you are doing something important,” she said. “My mother had breast cancer that was found on a mammogram. If it wasn’t for mammograms my mother wouldn’t be here.” Here mother is a 10-year cancer survivor.
Cindy said what she hope people would take away from her experience with her mother is the importance of taking charge of their health. Getting a mammogram is one way women - and men - can be certain they are getting the proper care. All women, even those with breast augmentation, can benefit from self exams and annual visits to their doctors. If a woman has a family history of breast cancer or has any changes in the color, shape or feel of her breasts, she should make an appointment with her doctor.
In 2001, Cindy’s family built a showcase house and sold it, giving the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. “It’s been important in our lives,” Cindy said.
For more information go to the web site for the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org or the Komen Foundation www.komen. org.