For 20 years, Neva Harrow, 63 of Claremont, has been vigilant about getting a mammogram screening for breast cancer every July when the Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) Mobile Mammogram Unit comes to McCreary Modern, the furniture manufacturer where she works.
“Almost every year we have had at least one female employee diagnosed with breast cancer after having a mammogram on the mobile unit,” says Janet Greer, McCreary Modern’s Nurse Practitioner. “We have about 1,000 employees and half of them are women. We have an excellent working relationship with CVMC and it’s so much more convenient for our ladies to have regular screenings when the unit visits one of our six plants.”
Unfortunately, this year, Neva’s screening showed something suspicious that needed to be addressed.
“The radiologist saw a tiny spot, smaller than a pea, that needed further testing,” Neva said. “After having more diagnostic testing at Catawba Valley Imaging Center, I learned that the tumor was cancerous and I ended up needing a lumpectomy.”
Neva is encouraged to know the cancer was caught at such an early stage and did not spread to her lymph nodes. To kill any cancer that might remain, she is also scheduled to have radiation therapy treatments at CVMC’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
During October – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Neva’s story helps underscore the importance of getting regular breast cancer screenings even for women like herself who have no family history of the disease. She says, “I cannot stress enough how important annual mammograms are. It just takes about 15 minutes and, it helps too, that we get to see the same face every year. Natalie Williams, the radiology technician on the mobile unit has developed a great rapport with the women she screens and you can tell that she cares about getting an accurate reading.”
Natalie has been a mammographer for over 30 years and is excited about the availability of even better life-saving technology now offered on the bright pink mobile unit CVMC commissioned recently. The new diagnostic center on wheels replaces the prior unit that served the area for over two decades and is equipped with 3D technology, also known as tomosynthesis.
“We are excited to help make a greater difference in the fight against breast cancer by offering advanced 3D technology that is proven to be more accurate in detecting breast cancer particularly in those with dense breast tissue,” says Natalie. “We often hear how hard it is for busy, working women to find time for medical appointments and the mobile breast center offers convenience and privacy without sacrificing the level of service that they would receive in an office.”
Current guidelines recommend annual screening mammograms for all women, beginning at age 40 and are typically covered 100% by health insurance. A family history of breast cancer can also be a factor, so women are encouraged to consult their primary care provider about recommendations for when and what type of mammogram is most appropriate.
Funding for the CVMC mobile mammography program was made possible through the Catawba Medical Foundation and reflects the organization’s longstanding commitment to women’s health issues and breast cancer education. To schedule a screening day at your facility or to book an appointment at one of the locations most convenient to you, call the CVMC Health First Center at 828.485.2300.