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Susan's Breast Cancer Story

by UPMC Susquehanna

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Susan Hagemeyer is no stranger to battling cancer. Having faced ovarian and thyroid cancer previously, she remains watchful and carefully attuned to changes in her body. So when something felt off, she took the recommendation of her doctor to have a 3D mammogram.

“I tell all women, don’t put it off, and listen to your doctor if they advise a 3D mammogram. It’s better to know,” Susan emphasizes.

The use of 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis, is recommended for women like Susan with dense breast tissue, as dense breasts can make it more difficult to spot cancer on traditional mammograms. A 3D mammogram allows doctors to image the breast at more angles. These images are then compiled into a 3D image to increase the visibility of small tumors.

When the radiologist spotted something suspicious on Susan’s 3D mammogram, an additional ultrasound and biopsy were performed at Kathryn Candor Lundy Breast Health Center at UPMC Susquehanna Divine Providence to confirm. Thanks to the 3D mammogram, the team caught Susan’s breast cancer early before it had a chance to widely spread.

“When I found out, I had to take a deep breath. In 1982, my mother died of breast cancer,” explains Susan. “I remembered what she went through. Hers was fast-growing and had already spread into her lymph nodes. At that time, technology wasn’t as advanced. She didn’t have access to 3D mammography. Because of my 3D mammogram, they were able to find mine much earlier and get me into treatment quickly.”

Susan is now more than halfway through her radiation treatments and credits her good spirits with the outstanding support of her cancer care team, her children, and church family.

“At the Breast Health Center, I really feel like I am part of their family. They know me and care about me. Like I’m their mom or their sister. They want the best for me. Having been through cancer treatment at other health systems, I know not every place is this caring or personalized,” Susan adds. “An entire team works with you to maintain and improve your overall health throughout treatment. I met with a nutritionist to ensure I was getting enough protein and eating the right healthy foods, and they told me about a special program at my local YMCA to exercise safely during treatment and build back up after.”

These days, Susan is building her strength each day by eating healthier, walking her son’s bulldog mix Pima, and spending quality time with family and friends.

“I’m so grateful that I went for that 3D mammogram and decided to have my cancer care here at UPMC Susquehanna Divine Providence,” Susan concludes. “They played the key role in finding my cancer early and putting me on the track to beating it. Here, you’re family. Here, they do everything they can to get you better.”

For more information on 3D mammography or the Kathryn Candor Lundy Breast Health Center, call 570-326-8200 or visit UPMCsusquehanna.org/Breast.