Gerri Buss, DNP, RN, has been a nurse in Quincy for more than 40 years. That does not make her immune to feelings experienced by other women.
“I was like every other female who dreads getting mammograms,” she said. “I was thinking, at that point, probably nothing is going to show up. I had 20 years’ worth of mammograms and thought my risk for breast cancer was certainly going down.”
That was 2018. Gerri was 60 years old. She was about to learn a lesson.
Thanks to a phone call from her primary care provider’s office nurse, to remind her she was due for a mammogram and schedule it for her, Gerri went ahead and had her annual mammogram.
It was a potentially life-saving phone call and decision.
Gerri’s mammogram helped detect a pre-cancerous condition called “Lobular carcinoma in situ” (LCIS). Having LCIS increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer in either breast in the future by almost 10 percent.
The lesson Gerri learned is that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with age.
“The highest risk for breast cancer being detected is between the ages of 60 and 69,” she said.
As of this May - when Gerri completes five years of hormone blocking therapy - her risk of developing breast cancer will be back to normal for her age.
The moral of this story is…
If that little voice inside your head is telling you to skip your mammogram, don’t listen to it.
“I want to encourage women who are getting tired of having mammograms every year to keep at it. Schedule your mammogram,” Gerri said.
National statistics show that some of the most invasive cases of breast cancer in women over age 40 occur when they missed their annual mammograms for more than two years and were not detected early in their disease.
If the statistics don’t convince women to get mammograms regularly, Gerri hopes what she experienced will convince you.
“My situation was caught early. I didn’t have to have aggressive therapy,” she said. “I want to encourage women to stay current with their mammograms. It’s so important to catch things early, before you have to experience invasive procedures.”