WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - For most women a mammogram is a routine matter, but for a woman whose exam reveals an abnormality, fear and anxiety can quickly set in.
Breast Health Navigator, R.N. Ellen Cannon, works at United Regional and is making sure Texoma women know they are not alone.
"When somebody is told there is something there that shouldn't be there, or its abnormal, its very alarming and very scary." said R.N. Ellen Cannon.
Her role is to educate patients about the unknown and expedite the steps that follow, including additional testing and possible biopsies.
She encourages patients that just because something is abnormal, it may not be a bad sign.
"About 85% of abnormal things we find turn out to be benign. No cancer."
When the news isn't good, Nurse Ellen becomes a supportive friend and follows patients step by step with an uplifting word and lots of information.
"Whenever you have breast cancer its not a death sentence anymore."
3D technology today is so advanced it can pick up cancer as small as a pin drop or apple seed.
If caught early, it's very curable.
But if you rely solely on self exams as the only form of early detection; lumps are usually the size of a grape or strawberry before a woman can even feel it.
Just another reminder, early detection with a mammogram is still your best way to fight back because there is no answer on what causes breast cancer.
Just being a female puts you at the number 1 risk and having birthdays puts you at the number 2 risk."
A woman's chances increase with age
another uncontrollable risk is genetics.. in most of those cases the cancer is more aggressive.
"That's where it's really key between 35 to 40 women can get a base line especially if you don't know your history."
But don't let the fact that no one in your family has had breast cancer stop you from getting tested because only 5 to 10 percent of woman diagnosed is due to genetics.
But breast cancer doesn't just impact the one diagnosed.
"Sometimes its even more traumatizing on husbands because they can't fix it."
So education and support is available for them as well.
It's a job Nurse Ellen says at times can be tough, but one she says always pays off.
"It is hard times but it is so rewarding."
Another concern about getting a mammogram is often fear of radiation, but Nurse Ellen says mammograms require very small doses of radiation
and is no more dangerous than walking out into the sun.