Breast cancer survivor, mammographer speak on the importance of mammograms

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More than 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer were living in the United States in January of this year, according to BreastCancer.org.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of the impact breast cancer has. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during their life, according to the American Cancer Society.

Michelle Schmidt is one of those women.

“It’s a scary deal,” said Schmidt. “It’s not just pink ribbons and tutus.”

She never had any symptoms that made her think she had breast cancer.

“I had no symptoms,” said Schmidt. “Zero. No lumps, bumps, nothing.”

Schmidt said it’s thanks to mammograms that she’s alive today.

“I’ve gotten eight years that I would’ve never had, had I not gone in,” said Schmidt. “It literally saved my life.”

Jennifer Lemon is a mammographer at CHI St. Alexius.

This month, CHI St. Alexius has extended their mammography hours and Lemon said they’re trying to increase the number of women who make appointments.

“Women put everybody else first in their lives. They take care of themselves last and by the end of the day, they run out of time and go shoot, ‘I should’ve got my mammogram,'” Lemon said.

She said, like Schmidt, she wants women to get examined even if they don’t have symptoms.

“My goal is to not wait until you have a problem because by the time you feel a problem, or notice that something’s going on, your treatments are going to be so much more invasive,” said Lemon.

Lemon said the sooner the cancer is found, the more likely there will be a better outcome.

“Catching the cancer small is so important in treatments and diagnosis,” said Lemon. “And if they’re caught small, then the treatments are a lot less invasive.”

Schmidt has advice for women going through treatment.

“A positive attitude is so important,” said Schmidt. “And I mean it, it’s hard, most days it’s so hard. But surround yourself with people that will support you.”

Her advice for women who are hesitant to get an exam?

“It’s so important,” said Schmidt. “Just know yourself, know if you’re not feeling quite right, know your body and get your mammograms!”

CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck is hosting Mammography Happy Hour on Oct. 14-19. There are additional appointment times are available from 3 to 6 p.m. and you can call 701-530-5550 to schedule a 3D mammogram.

CHI St. Alexius Health Minot Medical Plaza is extending mammography hours until 8 p.m. on certain days and adding Saturday appointments. You can call 701-857-8002 for more information on extended hours and to schedule an appointment.

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