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Breast cancer awareness: Christine’s Journey inspires others to schedule mammogram

breast cancer blogFor Breast Cancer awareness month in October, I wrote about the importance of getting an annual mammogram.

Six months later, I followed up with Christine’s Journey  – the story of  a colleague who scheduled a mammogram after reading my blog post and was  diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. She is now on the road to recovery. Christine’s story encouraged lunchtime banter with my co-workers about mammograms, conversations that led to a few women admitting they were due or overdue for the annual exam recommended for all women over age 40.

“I never miss scheduling my kids’ check-ups, their immunizations, or their annual flu shots. Yet, when it comes to my own health, I’m not so disciplined,” Alison said. “I could blame it on the hustle and bustle of having two young children, a demanding job, or just plain fear of anything that could cause my body discomfort. Whatever the reason, I found myself at 42 without ever having a mammogram.”

Not one to miss out on an opportunity, I took the advice I shared in my first blog and turned getting a mammogram into an event. I emailed every female in the office (even those under 40!) and found three ’takers,’ including Alison. I called a nearby outpatient health center and asked if we could book three consecutive appointments. Not only was the department manager happy to accommodate our request, she couldn’t hide her enthusiasm.

Tuesday, March 18, marked the big day. As a show of solidarity, female department members dressed in pink for the occasion; (see accompanying photo) while our three “’special women’” received bouquets of pink tulips on their desks when they arrived to work that morning.

The four of us headed to the health center at roughly the same time. After registering and changing into hospital gowns, my three coworkers (I had already had a recent exam) we gathered in a private waiting area where we chatted, laughed and even posed for a few photos  before each woman was taken back for the brief procedure.

“It was so much easier than I thought it would be. It was easy to make an appointment, check-in was quick, the actual mammogram was over before I knew it, and it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I feared,” said Leigh.  And, although she admitted she’s not afraid to go alone next time, “it was actually FUN.” She said she would love to go again with a group of women.

When my three coworkers were done, the party was just getting started! We followed the advice I shared in my first blog in taking the final  appointments of the day. Since we were done working, we went to meet up with the rest of our teammates at a local restaurant for an evening of celebration!

Lori, the only woman in the group who had previous “mammo experience “said, “The party afterwards was lots of fun, and a chance to plant the ‘screening seed’ with our younger co-workers.”

“I’m a firm believer in screening, and hopefully this Team Susquehanna approach will inspire other employees to encourage each other to make that appointment,” she  added.

You don’t need to work for Susquehanna to make your mammogram a team effort! Gather a few friends, and schedule those appointments.  It could save your life!

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