Joan...

Breast cancer survivor, Joan AbrahamFor many women, an annual mammogram is something they’d prefer to put off. For me, it was a test that saved my life. For the last 13 years, I’ve faithfully gone in for my mammogram. And, in 2006, it was no exception.

I scheduled my appointment at the Gundersen Onalaska Clinic and went in for the screening. Even when they called me to come in for a followup appointment in the Norma J. Vinger Center for Breast Care, I didn’t think anything of it. I truly didn’t think “cancer” because I don’t have a family history of breast cancer. That same day, the breast care team told me they wanted to do a biopsy. That’s the first time I thought, “Something might be wrong here.” When they called me back a couple days later and told me it was cancer, I was shocked.

From the very first day of my cancer journey through my lumpectomy and radiation therapy, I experienced the caring touch of the Center for Breast Care team. Everyone was very gentle and reassuring. They were there every step of the way and went above and beyond in my care. In fact, one day I thought I had an infection in my surgical incision. Lonna Theede, a registered nurse in the Breast Center, told me to call her at home if I ever had questions or concerns. When I did she said, “I’ll be right over,” and she actually came to my home to look at the incision. Nowadays, people don’t make house calls. It was far more than I ever expected.

While my cancer diagnosis was shocking, I was fortunate the cancer had not metastasized. If I had skipped my mammogram that year, who knows what the outcome could have been. I encourage each of you to get your routine mammogram this year and every year. It could save your life. I know it saved mine.

 Joan Abraham

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