Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Mass General breast technologist tells her patients why she never misses a mammogram

A Mass General breast technologist tells her patients why she never misses a mammogram

Mass General breast imaging technologist and breast cancer patient Dolores LeGeyt

Most women don't look forward to having a mammogram, but many report that a good breast imaging technologist can make a difference.

Meet Dolores Dunne LeGeyt, a breast imaging technologist at the MGH Revere HealthCare Center who has been helping women face the recommended screening test for the past 25 years. When she greets her patients, she often hears, “Why do I have to do this?” Her own story provides a compelling answer.

In 2010, Dolores had a routine mammogram performed by a co-worker. "When I looked at my images, I thought I saw calcifications," she says. After additional imaging, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I never really got myself crazed because I considered myself lucky that mammography found it early," she adds.

Under the care of Barbara Smith, MD, a surgical oncologist and director of the breast program at the Mass General Cancer Center, Dolores had a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. Within a few months of her diagnosis, she was back at work and seeing patients.

Dolores describes her breast cancer diagnosis as a leveler. "I'm on both sides of it," she says. "I do mammography to find breast cancer, but I've also been through it so I know how people feel." She works with many patients who acknowledge being nervous about the exam.

"Everyone has a different experience," she says. " A mammogram can be more uncomfortable for some women than others. To help achieve a good study, my job is to keep the patient relaxed, explain the procedure and work with a patient's concerns."

Read tips for getting a mammogram from Mass General breast technologists.

She also sees patients who tell her that they plan to skip their next mammogram. "That's when I tell them what happened to me," she says. "And that I've never missed a mammogram."

Without regular mammograms, Dolores believes that her cancer could have developed into a more invasive type. “Early detection saves lives," she says. "I know it saved mine."


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