Annual Mammogram Essential to Women’s Health
(An Interview with SJRA Patient Sharon Ritz by Norma Roth)
Sharon Ritz has no strong family history of breast cancer, yet she never misses her annual mammogram. In this interview, she shares why annual screening is essential to her overall health.
SJRA: When did you start annual breast screening?
SR: I started getting mammograms when I was in my mid-thirties. I have very fibrous breasts, and my gynecologist at the time thought it best to add a mammogram to my regular breast self-exams, which I’m not very good at. I’ve been called back for an MRI once or twice. Needless to say, it was scary but the sense of relief was so great when the results were negative.
SJRA: Does anything else influence your decision to have annual screening?
SR: Having so many friends who are breast cancer survivors, it seems even more important to make sure that I get screened annually. I know the incredible fight that my friends have experienced and, thankfully, won. I know that early detection is key to effective therapies and recovery. Even though I don’t have a strong family history of breast cancer, I believe that there are other factors that put me at risk, mostly environmental. I want to make sure I don’t have breast cancer as well as find out early on if I do.
SJRA: Any challenges as a large-breasted woman?
SR: My breasts are large, very heavy and very fibrous; all of these factors make it very difficult to be confident that I’ve been able to do an effective breast self-exam. I’ve run to the gynecologist worried that I felt something and it turned out to be a fibroadenoma. I make sure that I have the doctor check whenever I’m there, but the mammogram is crucial to me.
SJRA: Why do you choose SJRA for your breast screening?
SR: In the past, I have been given the choice to go elsewhere for my mammograms and always decline so I can go to SJRA. I love that the Women’s Center is set up for women! The staff, nurses and technicians are always cheerful. If they ask me to wait for a repeat mammogram, they’re always sensitive to my feelings. I feel like that my feelings are being considered. This is the one doctor I go to that I feel is completely about women and keeps that in mind.
About Norma E. Roth
Norma E. Roth, a breast cancer survivor, is a freelance journalist for health wellness and sustainable living. She is an advocate for annual mammography screening, believing early detection is the key to cancer survival. You can learn more about her at www.normaeroth.com.