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Monday, October 7, 2013

This Balancing Act Called Life

Contributed by Kristy Bush, Breast Cancer Survivor

In today’s day and age, we women seem to always have many things that we are trying to juggle.  From family to work and beyond, there are things constantly vying for our attention and we must decide what is a priority, and more importantly, what is not.  The question then becomes, how do we decide when everything seems so important?

Last year at this time, I was running around trying to climb the corporate ladder while keeping my status as “super mom”.   I had applied to return to school to obtain my Masters degree, but on December 6, 2012, this all changed.  I received the news that I had a very aggressive type of breast cancer, and in an instant, my priorities changed.

No longer was I concentrating on climbing the corporate ladder, rather, I was focused on fighting to live and to love the people who were in my life and important to me.   It is one thing to assess our priorities when we are forced to, however, what about the rest of the time?  Why don’t we make the time to assess what matters most to us regularly to make sure we are staying on track so that we perhaps have fewer regrets later in life?  Or do we as women require hardships to wake us from our “super woman” fog to realize the areas of our life that we are neglecting?

My journey through breast cancer was an unexpected eye opener.  I maintained a positive attitude and did what I had to do to get through it: that was my priority at that time.  I tackled chemo and bilateral mastectomies and was declared cancer free in May of 2013. 

Since then, I decided to decline my acceptance for my Masters degree and focus my time on touching people’s lives in a positive way, especially my children.  We all have goals in life, however, now I try to make sure that I look at my goals and ask myself if they will really matter to anyone 10 years from now if I die today.  Staying healthy, loving the people that I am blessed with, and making my unique mark on the world by touching others is what God has placed on my heart as my new goals in life. 

A person cannot go through an illness like breast cancer and not come out the other end unchanged.  Some will have a limited time to touch lives, while others of us who have beaten cancer have a second chance at life and how we live it.

It is clear that my life and perspective on things are changed.  Now I move forward at a slower pace, assess my priorities daily, and ask myself why I am making the choices I am making and is it benefiting others.

It took breast cancer to awaken me from my fog, but this does not need to be the catalyst for you.  My gift to you is my story.  Take time for yourself and to enjoy those around you…..slow down and live!

Watch Kristy's video to hear her story:

Staying Positive when Facing a Serious Illness

Katherine Barton, MD, FACS
Contributed by Katherine Barton, MD, FACS.
PinnacleHealth Breast Care Center, Breast Surgeon

Patients often ask me, “Did I get the breast cancer because I took estrogen?”  “Did my husband get these gallstones because of his diet?”  “Had I come in sooner, would we have caught this earlier and had a better prognosis?”

I try to diffuse these questions without really answering them because, although we know certain risk factors exist, we never really KNOW what causes disease.  We all know examples: a non-smoking individual that gets lung cancer or a thin runner who gets heart disease because of bad genetics.

I think that it is important to remember this so that we don’t self-flagellate too much when we do end up ill.  So often we blame ourselves… even blaming ourselves for something like cancer.  Perhaps we feel we deserve it for something “bad” we did in the past.  I see this all too often.  One patient of mine even showed me a letter from a “friend” stating that she was going to pray for her sins (because she developed breast cancer).

Prevention is a very important part of medicine and we should all strive to live a healthy lifestyle.  Quit smoking, exercise, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress in our lives, eat a well-balanced diet including lots of fruits/ vegetable/ and omega-3-fatty acids, etc.  But please don’t beat yourself up for being human.

In fact, I think this is the key ingredient to success in whatever healthy pursuit you are attempting (whether its quitting smoking or losing weight or starting an exercise program or reducing stress in your life).  You have to forgive yourself for your slip-ups and start over again.  Tomorrow is a new day.  So… whatever you have been trying to achieve, start today with a positive “can-do” attitude and do not torture yourself for yesterdays “ice cream sundae”, “couch-potato TV watching” or that “quick cigarette” while on break.  Forgive and try again!  It’s been shown that those who keep trying are ones that are successful!  GOOD LUCK!

Click here to learn more about the PinnacleHealth Breast Care Center. 

Let's Talk About Mammograms!

Contributed by the PinnacleHealth Mammography Department

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. What better time to talk about Mammography!

Mammograms have improved greatly over the last decade from film to digital imaging and now there is even 3-D Tomosynthesis imaging. Ten years ago your images were on film; now we have Digital imaging, which is faster, more sensitive and can be done with a lower radiation dose. They can even be manipulated, similar to digital photos you take today with your camera.

There are only two things you need to know to get ready for your mammogram.
  • First, it will be easier for you if wear a two piece outfit because you need to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a gown. 
  • Second, do not wear deodorant or powder the day of your study. Deodorants and powders can contain small metallic particles that can affect the quality of the image.
Although you may be a little nervous about getting a mammogram let me reassure you, it isn’t the horrible experience you’ve been imagining or hearing about.  Your breast will be compressed, and while it may not be comfortable, it should not be painful. Some locations use a “Mammo Pad” that cushions you a bit during the compression.

The technologist will usually take four pictures, two of each breast with the machine at different angles. Your breast will only be compressed for about 15-20 seconds for each picture.  We have several offices that offer different options for your results.
  • If you want to wait for your results, there are locations where you can get them immediately.
  • Or, If you aren’t having problem and want to get your mammogram done, leave and get your results the next day, you can.
We also offer a new technology called Digital Breast Tomosynthesis.  The exam simply requires one additional image of each breast and will provide the Radiologist with a 3D view of your breast. Tomosynthesis helps to reduce the amount of radiation to you by decreasing the need to have additional views done. This service is offered on the East Shore at the Medical Sciences Pavilion located at our Community General campus. In mid October we will have Tomosynthesis on the West Shore in our Grandview office located just off Erford Road.

Although we offer both Breast Ultrasound and Breast MRI procedures as follow-up procedures to mammography, these studies alone do not replace a Digital Mammogram for breast cancer screening.

For more information visit