The third Friday in October is National Mammography Day, and a well-known Utah voice is urging all women to get this crucial checkup.
Our colleague Rebecca Cressman on FM 100.3 is now undergoing chemo for Stage 2B breast cancer. It was detected on one of her yearly mammograms.
“I tell people mammograms save lives. I believe it saved my life,” she said.
Yet many Utah women are not getting a mammogram every year. We rank 48th out of 50 states.
“Fear drives a lot of behavior. I think a lot of us think, ‘I just don’t want to know,’ because that seems daunting and scary and big. I’ll share with you, the surgery and chemo I am going through, that’s scary and big. But a 30 minute mammogram is empowering,” said Cressman.
She says if you are over 40, you need a mammogram to get that baseline. Then keep it up every year to catch anything early.
“Often when we find breast cancer in Utah, we find it when it’s more advanced. So we need to reverse that, let’s find it earlier, so that treatment and healing and the prognosis is so much better.”
Insurance almost always covers the test, and it’s quick and painless. But besides fear, Cressman sees other things keeping Utah women away, whether it’s misunderstandings, or not putting themselves first.
Cressman says some women think that because they don’t have a family history of breast cancer, they don’t need a mammogram, which isn’t true. Or they think they will just feel a lump themselves, when a mammogram can actually detect cancer 2 years before a lump would even be felt. There’s a high rate of women getting breast implants in Utah, and some of those people may think a mammogram won’t work — but it will.
She also spent some time talking to KSL Newsradio about her own diagnosis. Her mother and grandmother died from the disease, so she knew a lot about it.
“I could see it had the markings of a tumor that was about 2cm in size. I could see it had the risk factors…it looked like cancer. I reached out and touched the hand of the ultrasound tech and I said, ‘It’s ok.'”
Her family, friends, co-workers and FM 100 listeners have reacted with a lot of support. She started chemotherapy in September, and takes a few days off air after treatment to recover.
“You have to have a level of humility that you’ll do the best you can, your health care providers will, and you live your life and hope,” said Cressman. “I’ll do everything I can and then trust and hope.”
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