3-D Mammogram Equals Early Detection for TMH Unit Clerk

Debbie Thomas was not going to schedule her yearly mammogram in 2016, but her husband Tim had other ideas.

“Every year, I have such a horrible time with mammograms on my right side,” the 61-year-old unit clerk at Taylorville Memorial Hospital (TMH) said. “They always find something; they always do an ultrasound. It’s always nothing.”

Knowing Debbie’s family history – her mother had breast cancer years ago – Tim argued in favor of scheduling the annual mammogram. He reminded her she should do it exactly because they always find something.

In addition, TMH’s new 3-D mammogram machine offered a higher in-depth set of scans. In June, Debbie went in for her mammogram. TMH mammography coordinator Mary Jo Coady, RT(R)(M) performed the scan.

“Mary Jo is wonderful,” Debbie said. “She always makes things easy. She talks to you the whole time and really puts you at ease.”

Patricia Whitworth, MD, a radiologist with Clinical Radiologists, SC at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, read the scans and requested more views. This time on the left side. Then she asked for an ultrasound.

After the ultrasound, Mary Jo called Debbie in from the waiting room to talk with Whitworth on the phone.

“She said ‘It’s cancer,’” Debbie said. “I was upset. I was a little concerned it was another false reading. The shape and location were more concerning – different then before on the right side. But I still wasn’t going to be too upset until after the biopsy.”

The biopsy results came back quickly, and Debbie had her answer. They scheduled her surgery at Memorial Medical Center for August.

“Everything was so simple, so easy for me,” Debbie said. “After the surgery, when they called with the results that say whether you will need chemotherapy or radiation, my number was only 4 on a scale of 1-80. It was caught so early. The docs had never seen a number so low.”

Debbie tells her colleagues at TMH that she is living proof to keep those annual mammogram appointments – the earlier the better.

“Don’t put it off,” she said. “Mine was so tiny, and that 3-D mammogram picked it up. Dime-sized – two dime-sized nodules.”

TMH debuted its 3-D mammography in March 2016. A 3-D mammogram requires no additional compression and takes just a few additional seconds when compared to a conventional breast cancer screen.

For routine 3-D mammogram screenings, patients can schedule their own appointments through a physician referral or call 217-824-1865 for more information.