Catching cancer early: Routine mammogram spotted technician’s breast cancer

Kimberly White, a 28-year employee of Upstate, has survived breast cancer. She had surgery in December 2016 and finished radiation treatments in February 2017. (PHOTO BY WILLIAM MUELLER)

Kimberly White, a 28-year employee of Upstate, has survived breast cancer. She had surgery in December 2016 and finished radiation treatments in February 2017. (PHOTO BY WILLIAM MUELLER)

BY AMBER SMITH

In 28 years as a clinical technician at Upstate University Hospital, Kimberly White, 47, has cared for a wide variety of patients, including adults with cancer.

Today she has a new appreciation for the disease, as a survivor.

Her experience helps her relate to patients, especially those who undergo radiation therapy. “I share my story with patients, if the timing is right,” White says.

It was early fall 2016 when she went for her annual mammogram. An appointment that usually takes a half hour stretched to two and a half hours as technicians did additional sonograms.

Then White underwent a biopsy of her right breast, to get a sample of the tissue that appeared suspicious in the images. Results went to her gynecologist, who called her at about 6:30 p.m. one evening in October 2016. “That’s when I lost it,” she recalls.

Anna Shapiro, MD

Anna Shapiro, MD

White had ductal carcinoma in situ, an early cancer that was too small to feel. Only a mammogram would have noticed it.

She had the suspicious area removed in a lumpectomy. Soon after, she began radiation treatments at the Upstate Cancer Center with radiation oncologist Anna Shapiro. MD.

White’s radiation therapy continued through mid-February 2017. She returned to work at the end of the month.

Her treatment is complete, but White has follow-up appointments every six months. She feels good now. Cancer is no longer the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up in the morning.

She has become a mammography advocate, spreading a message of its importance to family members, co-workers, friends and anyone who reads this story: “Don’t be scared,” she says. “Just get it done.”

Time for your mammogram?

Radiologists and specially trained technologists at Upstate University Hospital offer state-of-the-art breast imaging in two comfortable, private locations with weekday and weekend scheduling:

Women’s Imaging:

* Upstate Specialty Services at Harrison Center, 550 Harrison St., Syracuse. Call 315-464-2588 for appointment.

* Wellspring Breast Care Center at the Community campus, 4900 Broad Road, Syracuse. Call 315-492-5702 for appointment.

Cancer Care magazine fall 2017 coverThis article appears in the fall 2017 issue of Cancer Care magazine.

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