Cancer Patient Shares Her Best Piece of Advice

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and throughout the year, TriHealth encourages women to receive preventative screenings to detect breast cancer.

In addition, National Mammography Day, Oct. 17, provides an additional reminder for women who are of the recommended age for a mammogram to schedule their screening.

Mammogram Screening Guidelines

Mammography provides a reliable way to test for breast cancer in early stages. The earlier breast cancer is found in a patient, the better their chances for successful treatment. Guidelines are as follows:

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) - about every 3 years for women in their twenties and thirties and every year for women 40 and over
  • Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2 percent of all the women in the United States.) Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.

We’re All in This Together

At TriHealth, we’re all together in the fight against breast cancer, even within our unified system. An team member for more than 30 years, Julie Randolph, will tell you the importance of a regular mammogram.

The 48-year-old mother of two young adults spent months pretending a lump in her breast wasn’t there. Finally, when she couldn’t ignore it anymore, she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, which had spread to her brain, spinal cord, bone marrow and liver.

Julie has lost her voice and her hair (though some has grown back), wears an eye patch to ease her double vision, and uses a walker or wheelchair to get around when she isn’t too tired.

Her best advice for other women she offers without hesitation: “Get mammograms early.”

Julie still works full-time as a supervisor of collections and HCAP in Patient Accounting. She takes just one day off every three weeks to receive treatment at the newly opened Good Samaritan Infusion Center on the fourth floor of the hospital.

“I don’t want it to get to a point where I can’t work,” Julie says.

Her family, friends and co-workers have helped her through it all – from hosting fundraisers for her treatment to showing their support with custom “Team Julie” T-shirts and ribbons and accompanying her to appointments.

“They’ve been wonderful,” Julie says.

Since this story was written, Julie lost her battle with breast cancer.

Tags: Womens Health

Last Updated: October 16, 2015