"That's the funny thing about an experience like this - you can feel fine and not even realize that something might be wrong. That's why you need to get checked."
Sue Richason was no stranger to receiving mammograms – she had been faithful about receiving them each year, right on time. She was also no stranger to breast cancer, for it had taken its toll on the women in her family, particularly on her mother’s side. “My mom and my aunt battled breast cancer, and I lost my first cousin to her fight with it,” recalls Sue. “That’s the funny thing about this – you can feel fine and not even realize that something might be wrong. That’s why you need to get checked.”
Sue has also had several biopsies done over the years as precautions taken due to the results of her screenings. Dr. Todd Weinstein, a general surgeon at Logansport Memorial Hospital, has performed all of them. Mammogram screenings are part of her preventive care, and with Sue’s background, she understands just how important primary care is for prevention and wellness.
“My screenings are scheduled after my primary care visits because they are part of my wellness,” says Sue. “I have been retired from nursing at the hospital for 11 years now, and I’ve worked in all parts of it – Surgery, OB, the Med/Surg floor, and the ER. I was even there when the ambulance service started. So as a nurse, I believe primary care is important because that’s where your experience should start… trying to determine what other (if any) specialized care you may need for a problem or condition that you have.”
And that’s where it started for Sue. In the summer of 2011, she went for her yearly mammogram as scheduled and felt fine, suspecting nothing. After getting her results, she was scheduled for a stereotactic biopsy, which is fairly non-invasive. It was determined that she did have breast cancer, but it was contained. “They told me that to have it contained is what you want,” comments Sue. “That did make me feel a little better. I wasn’t scared throughout most of the process because of how wonderful Dr. Weinstein and other clinical staff were about keeping me informed. But getting results back is still a waiting game, no matter how much you talk about it. I was the most skeptical about this experience while I was waiting for those results because I just didn’t know what I was dealing with yet.”
Luckily for her, Dr. Weinstein had it covered. She had a lumpectomy to remove the lump from her breast. Her husband and two of her three sons were able to be with her for the surgery. Her sister called afterward to check in on her.
From there, Sue had to undergo radiation treatments five days per week. “I was just glad that I didn’t have to do the chemo treatments too,” remarks Sue. “I only had to do this for six months, which is not that bad. Dr. Marvel and his staff are wonderful as well, taking very good care of me through this entire experience.
What advice would Sue give about receiving mammograms? She was glad we asked. “I think the best advice I could give would be to make sure you do it – go have that mammogram, and don’t let any fear that you feel stop you,” she says. “I also think it’s so important to know your family history, like I knew about the women on my mom’s side of my family. You have to know where and who you came from and what they faced to know and understand what you might be up against later in life. Make the most of your physician-patient relationships too,” comments Sue. “I was so grateful for the care I received from Dr. Weinstein and Dr. Marvel. Only you as a patient can establish relationships with your physicians for yourself, but I do believe it’s very important to do.”
Now, Sue is having her follow-up mammograms to make sure that the cancer doesn’t come back – two each year, one as a screening, and one on the side where she had her lumpectomy. But how does Sue feel? That’s the best part. “I feel good, enjoying life and telling others about my experience,” smiles Sue. We knew that Sue had a great story to tell… and we’re so glad that she shared it with us.