Hospital Executive Takes Novel Approach in Urging Women to Keep Mammogram Appointments

January 22, 2014 Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center

012114_NancyCarlsonAbout 25 percent of women skip their mammogram appointments at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, something Nancy Carlson takes very personally.

Carlson is the hospital’s chief executive, but it’s not the bottom line she’s looking at. It’s her own experience – and very costly mistake.

Carlson is a breast cancer survivor, and in her crusade to help others stay healthy, she’s found that canceled mammogram appointments are not unique to her hospital.

The Usual Excuses

In a touching letter to patients, Carlson is urging women to keep those annual appointments, noting she went several years without the recommended screening for breast health, and paid the price.

“I’m among the many women who didn’t keep scheduled mammogram exams – in my case for 9 years – because I was ‘too busy,’” she wrote in her letter. “Once I finally decided I would ‘work it into my schedule,’ the cancer had been developing over the course of most of those 9 years. Please don’t use the same excuses I did: ‘too busy,’ ‘too inconvenient,’ ‘nothing likely to show up anyway,’ to avoid your scheduled exams, as recommended by your physician.

“Don’t repeat my mistake.”

Mammogram Can Help with Early Diagnosis

Breast cancer is second only to skin cancer among women in the United States. This year, an estimated 232,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die. Mammography plays a significant role in diagnosing breast cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.

Carlson’s letter will be sent to women who have made appointments for mammograms at the hospital and will be available around the hospital as a heartfelt reminder.

“My message to women is that nobody is too busy to make responsible health decisions for themselves because their health affects those who love them and need them,” Carlson said. “A few moments out of an entire year may save you from what can be a devastating illness.”

Schedule Your Mammogram

Most experts agree women should start having regular mammograms at about age 40 – sometimes earlier, based on family medical history and other risk factors. Talk with your primary care provider and work together to make the best decision for you.

For more information, visit the regional Providence breast cancer centers listed below.

Burbank, Providence St. Joseph Breast Health Center
Mission Hills, Providence Outpatient Diagnostic Center
Porter Ranch, Providence Holy Cross Imaging Center Porter Ranch
Tarzana, Providence Tarzana Women’s Center
Torrance, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center

Eastern Washington (greater Spokane area) 
Northwest Washington (greater Everett area)
Southeast Washington (greater Walla Walla area) 
Southwest Washington (Aberdeen, Centralia and Olympia)

Missoula and Polson

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