When Terri Teasley had a mammogram this spring, she wasn't particularly
worried. She didn't feel sick, but her doctor urged her to get checked
and referred her to the Iredell Health System Women's Health Center.
It was her first mammogram in four years.
"After the mammogram, I got a phone call and a letter telling me
they needed more pictures," said Teasley, who lives in Statesville.
A radiologist had discovered an area of concern, prompting the need for
the additional follow up testing. After a diagnostic mammogram, an ultrasound,
and a biopsy, she received the surprising diagnosis.
"June 9th is when they told me I had breast cancer," Teasley
said. "I didn't have any suspicions, it just came out of the
blue. I wasn't expecting anything."
With that news, Teasley's life changed forever and doctors started
working to save it with surgery and chemotherapy. The treatments forced
her to leave her job at a local cleaning company, but she says she's
glad that doctors found her cancer, giving her a chance to fight it. She
got that chance thanks to the appropriate testing, paid for in part by
a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which recently awarded $11,568
to Iredell Health System to help cover the costs of diagnostic mammograms
and ultrasounds for more than 60 local women. If a possible tumor shows
up on a regular screening mammogram or someone finds a lump during a self-exam
or doctor's visit, usually a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound are
the next steps.
"Diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds provide more detailed information
about a suspicious area in the breast than a routine screening mammogram,"
said Lois Beckett, mammography supervisor for Iredell Health System. "We
never want a patient to ignore a breast concern or to put off diagnostic
testing after a routine mammogram because they are concerned about how
they will pay for it."
Komen Charlotte conducted a needs assessment of its service area and found
that Iredell County had a higher rate of breast cancer discovered at later
stages than the 13-county region as a whole. By awarding the grant to
Iredell Health System, Komen Charlotte hopes to help more women find breast
cancer in earlier stages, increasing their chances at survival.
Teasley is now spreading the word, encouraging other women in her life
to take breast cancer seriously.
"I'm telling my sisters and my friends to get their mammograms.
I had a friend post online about a lump she found and she was wondering
if she should get it checked. I told her yes, not to wait."
Along with the funding from Susan G. Komen, Iredell Health System maintains
a mammogram fund to help uninsured and underinsured women with their regular
screening mammograms. When it comes to finding breast cancer, Beckett
says finances should never stop someone from getting the testing they need.
"Don't wait," said Beckett. "We have the funds available
for you. We can find a way to get this taken care of for you."
To contact the Women's Health Center, call 704-878-4551.