Carmen Erwin, from Calhoun, worked as a dental hygienist and took care of patients’ oral health every day. When she heard about the thirty-dollar mammogram campaign at AdventHealth Gordon, she knew she had to take action. As a single mom who didn’t qualify for government-subsidized health insurance, Erwin hadn’t been able to afford health insurance for herself in years.
Erwin had a family history of breast cancer. Her mom had been treated for breast cancer years earlier, and she knew that she too was at risk because of this history.
“A program like this is really a miracle,” said Erwin. “As women, we put ourselves last, on the back burner. Our kids always come first, and we are always taking care of others in our lives.”
For the third year since its program’s inception, the Edna Owens Breast Center at AdventHealth Gordon has been offering affordable mammograms to women who might not otherwise be able to afford one because of a lack of insurance. The thirty-dollar mammograms are available to any woman over the age of 40, regardless of family history.
After her first thirty-dollar mammogram three years ago, Erwin shared the idea with the other hygienists at her office. Together, they coordinated their appointments the following year on the same day so they could make a day of it with a brunch and celebration.
“The people of AdventHealth Gordon have been so supportive of me and made me feel so comfortable. The nurse [at the Edna Owens Breast Center] was very reassuring and talked to me before I went back. Taking three seconds [for the screening] is definitely worth it to save your life,” said Erwin, who has several friends going through breast cancer treatments right now.
Breast cancer is highly treatable when discovered early. Erwin is committed to staying on top of her health by now making sure she stays up to date with her health screenings.
“Do it for your family, do it for your kids. Doing this one thing is something you can check off the box of self-care. It’s reasonable, affordable and can really save your life,” said Erwin.
Early detection from a mammogram likely saved the life of Alabama resident and retired AdventHealth Redmond Occupational Health Director Teresa Fagan. After a mammogram last spring, her care team at the AdventHealth Redmond Women’s Center detected a 1.5-centimeter spot that looked suspicious. Pathology reports confirmed the lump was cancerous, and the nurse navigators held Fagan’s hand as she heard the news and walked her through the details of what treatment would look like for her. Although she was a nurse and could understand the treatment process from a clinical standpoint, Fagan said she appreciated the compassionate emotional support of the care team.
Working quickly with her doctors and nurse navigators, Fagan underwent a lumpectomy to her affected breast. The nurse navigator attended doctor appointments with Fagan and patiently listened to her questions and outlined discharge instructions and care procedures to set her up for optimal healing.
“You could ask her [the nurse navigator] things you might not ask other people, and it was almost like she could read your mind about what you might be wanting to know,” said Fagan.
After she was healed from surgery, Fagan went through 33 rounds of radiation therapy. One year later, she was declared cancer-free.
Fagan credits her victory over cancer to her family and friends who supported her and her family throughout her journey with cancer and her care team at the AdventHealth Redmond Women’s Center.
“That whole team is just extraordinary. I’ve gone there for years and have always had a great experience. But when you go through this, you really see the difference in the care,” said Fagan.
Annual mammograms are still the top-recommended screening for women because it allows the earliest possible detection of issues before you experience symptoms. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. and having your annual mammogram could be lifesaving.
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