Tag Archives: mammogram

Women’s Health & Mental Health Month

Everyone who has ever flown on an airplane has heard these instructions: “Secure your own oxygen mask before trying to help others.” It’s also true when it comes to your health. You can’t take care of your loved ones if you haven’t cared for yourself first. Women have traditionally filled the roles of caregivers for their families, which makes it even more important to attend to their own health. 

Erin Leonard, ARNP

As women move through the different stages of life, there are screenings and routine exams based on age that can potentially be lifesaving. Erin Leonard, ARNP at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, encourages the basics, “A healthy diet and exercise is so important for women of all ages.” Erin recommends a wellness exam every year. Wellness visits can include breast exams, pelvic exams, lab work, and immunizations. The healthcare providers at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic encourage younger women and girls to discuss what’s happening with their bodies during well child and well adolescent visits. Beginning at age 21, a pap smear is recommended every three years until the age of 30. “After 30, we do a Pap smear with HPV testing.  This can be done every 5 years, as long as previous testing has been normal,” says Erin. Screening intervals can change depending on previous results. “One size does not fit all. The best approach is shared decision making between a woman and her primary care provider. As women age, they need to add mammograms and colonoscopies to the list, too!” 

Top of mind this year is how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, especially women who are pregnant, or may be trying to get pregnant.  “There have been a lot of questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, and whether or not women should get it,” said Erin.  The CDC, World Health Organization, and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend vaccinating pregnant women against COVID-19 due to the increased risk of complications should they contract the virus.  Additionally, the vaccine has not been tied to adverse outcomes related to pregnancy or fertility.  Recent studies have shown immunity passed on to babies in moms who have been vaccinated during pregnancy and lactating mothers.  Erin added, “If you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your healthcare provider.”

No matter your age, particularly in stressful times like a pandemic, mental health is as important as physical health. “We screen for depression and anxiety in all our annual visits,” said Erin. “Mental health concerns can span across our entire lifetime. We’re here to help when it’s needed.” 

According to Morgan Drake, Director of Ringgold County Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions, women are twice as likely as men to experience symptoms of depression. “There are a variety of reasons,” said Morgan. “But often it’s related to hormones. Women’s hormones change at the onset of menstruation, with pregnancy, if they’re experiencing infertility, or going through menopause.”

Although these hormonal changes may be inevitable, they don’t have to lead to depression. “Physically taking care of ourselves with a healthy diet and some exercise is a great place to start,” she said. “Studies show that even 30 minutes of walking each day can be as effective as taking anti-depression medication.” Morgan added that the walks can be broken up into 10-minute bursts and be equally beneficial.

Along with basic diet and exercise, it’s important to get adequate sleep and practice keeping stress in check. “We suggest learning relaxing techniques and making time to do things you enjoy. Even caring for a pet can relieve stress,” said Morgan.

Morgan invites the entire community to participate in Wear Green Day on May 21 to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness.

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Breast cancer survivors speak out

The health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital strongly encourage all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, noninvasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.” The 3D Mammography machine brings the most advanced imaging available today to the area. Patients don’t have to travel to get the best of the best. “The convenience of it being right here means we’re detecting more breast cancers, earlier,” said Shelly. “Early detection is what saves lives.”

Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews

“It’s my firm belief that everyone should get an annual mammogram. I usually get one every year on my birthday in August. But for some reason, I waited until December in 2018. If it weren’t for the 3-D machine, we never would have found the cancers. I had cancer in both breasts. “It was a big blessing that I didn’t have to do chemo. I had surgery in early 2019 along with radiation. For the next five years, I’ll take a pill as a preventative measure to prevent future cancer. But that’s it! I’m feeling good and doing well. Having a positive attitude is key. I knew that God would take care of me.”

Diane Wood

Diane Wood

“I’ve had a mammogram every year since I turned 40 because I have a family history of breast cancer. My mother, my grandmother and my grandmother’s five sisters all had it. Three years ago, when I was 69, my mammogram indicated stage one breast cancer.

“The doctor recommended a lumpectomy, but because of my family history, I opted for a double mastectomy. I had no radiation and no chemo and I’m feeling really good. My advice? Get a mammogram every year!”

Debbie Bradley

Debbie Bradley

“I’m very fortunate. Thirty-some years ago I became eligible to have regular mammograms through my insurance company. I started immediately and have never missed one. I lost a dear aunt to breast cancer and her memory was my motivation. In recent years, my husband and I have been going to Ringgold County Hospital for all our medical needs. When it was time for a mammogram in 2019, RCH had just installed a 3-D machine. They credit that machine for finding the cancer. It was really early detection and wasn’t even stage one yet. I was 73 years old. “My surgery was a lumpectomy and removal of three lymph nodes. That was followed by several radiation treatments. I received wonderful care from start to finish and recovered quickly. After my 2020 follow-up mammogram, I received a letter from RCH stating, “Your recent breast imaging showed an area that we believe is probably benign (probably not cancer). However, in six months, you should have a follow-up imaging to confirm that this area has not changed. “You can bet that I will be there in six months.”

Print and Read the Full Story – October Newsletter

Mammograms Make Sense

It’s breast Cancer Awareness Month, and once again the health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital are strongly encouraging all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, non-invasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.”

Kelsey Mullins, left, and Shelly Shields, right

Why get a mammogram? Breast cancers found during a mammogram are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. Finding breast cancer early (called early detection) can improve the chances that breast cancer can be treated successfully and with more treatment options, less extensive surgery, and ultimately, better treatment outcomes.

Who should get screened? The American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening guidelines vary based on a woman’s age and risk factors for breast cancer. It’s generally agreed that annual mammograms for women over the age of 40 are recommended. Talk to your doctor about the screening plan that is best for you. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. The American Cancer Society encourages women to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and reducing alcohol intake. These choices can help reduce their breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society also encourages regular
screenings to find breast cancer early, when it is most likely to be curable.

The big news in breast cancer detection is the 3D Mammography machine. Ringgold County Hospital acquired one a couple of years ago. “We decided the benefits far outweighed the costs. We really wanted to get it for our community,” said Shelly. The 3D Mammography machine brings the most advanced imaging available today to the area. Patients don’t have to travel to get the best of the best. “The convenience of it being right here means we’re detecting more breast cancers, earlier,” said Shelly. “Early detection is what saves lives.” The machine’s sophistication also means fewer women need to come back for a second set of images. “It’s low-dose radiation, and it reduces call-backs by 40%.” At Ringgold County Hospital, the benefits of high-tech imaging come with outstanding patient care. Shelly and Kelsey have been doing mammograms and other imaging for 30 years. Our patients are our friends, neighbors and family. “We want to help them be comfortable. Their experience is so important to us.” To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 641-464-4400.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital are strongly encouraging all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, noninvasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.” The big news in breast cancer detection is the 3D Mammography machine. Ringgold County Hospital acquired one earlier this year. “We decided the benefits far outweighed the costs. We really wanted to get it for our community.”

The 3D Mammography machine brings the most advanced imaging available today to the area. Patients don’t have to travel to get the best of the best. “The convenience of it being right here means we’re detecting more breast cancers, earlier,” said Shelly. “Early detection is what saves lives.” The machine’s sophistication also means fewer women need to come back for a second set of images. “It’s low-dose radiation, and it reduces call-backs by 40%.”

At Ringgold County Hospital, the benefits of high-tech imaging come with outstanding patient care. Shelly has been doing mammograms and other imaging for 30 years. Her patients are her friends, neighbors and family. “I want to take care of my patients,” said Shelly. “I want to help them be comfortable. Their experience is so important to me.”

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 641-464-4400.

RCH Now Offers 3D Mammography

Kelsey Mullins, RT (R)(CT)(M) and Shelly Shields, RT (R)(CT)(MR) showcase the GeniusTM 3D MammographyTM unit

The Genius 3D Mammography exam is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection. It is performed in conjunction with a traditional 2D digital mammogram. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple images. Then a computer uses these images to produce a 3D image of the breast tissue, providing greater detail for the radiologist.

There are many benefits of 3D mammography including earlier and easier detection. With conventional mammography the radiologist is viewing the breast tissue in a flat image. Sometimes this tissue appears overlapped, making it difficult to see all the individual structures. With 3D mammography, the doctor can now see the different structures as well as the location, size and shape of any abnormal tissue, such as small cancers. The Hologic Genius 3D Mammography exam also reduces callbacks by up to 40% compared to 2D mammography alone.  In the past, if the radiologist saw an area that was questionable, the patient would be asked to return for additional imaging. By being able to see the breast tissue in smaller, thinner sections, the “second look” might not be necessary.

Very low X-ray energy is used during a 3D exam. This means the amount of radiation is below the recommended guidelines of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and is just slightly higher than digital 2D mammography alone. Breast Tomosynthesis (3D mammography) is approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). A 3D mammography exam is an optional addition to a traditional 2D digital mammography exam. Click here to print and read the full article.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Imaging Department at 641-464-4400.