Swamped with work, Terri Herman was very tempted to reschedule her mammogram. "It was a really busy day," said the Omaha Public Power District employee. "I really didn't want to go."
But because her employer had arranged for a group of workers to have an afternoon off for mammograms at Alegent Creighton University Medical Center, Herman went for her annual check. She was the last one scheduled. And she couldn't be more thankful today that she showed up.
"It was Halloween when I got the call," she said. "They told me, ‘We found something that looks abnormal.'" She went back for more testing. "When my doctor called me after that I knew something was very wrong."
Herman was diagnosed with precancerous ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which means she had abnormal cells in the lining of a duct. Virtually all invasive cancer begins as DCIS but not all DCIS becomes an invasive cancer. There are no signs or symptoms associated with the condition but if left untreated, DCIS can lead to invasive cancer of the breast.
In December, she had surgery—and more bad news. Doctors found and removed about one-eighth of an inch of an invasive cancer. In January, Herman had sixteen radiation treatments at Alegent Creighton Health Immanuel Medical Center. "It scares me to think what if I hadn't gone to my mammogram—if I had waited another year," she said.
Creighton University Medical Center began offering mammogram parties like the one Herman attended about seven years ago. It's a fun and relaxing environment in which friends or co-workers can have the exams, with breakfast, lunch or afternoon snacks included. First National Bank, Gallup, Mutual of Omaha, OPPD and the city of Omaha are some of the employers that participate.
Alegent Creighton Health Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs also has offered mammogram parties-- to Council Bluffs teachers, casino employees and Mercy Hospital employees. They also see a group of about two dozen friends that schedules a party every year. Alegent Creighton Health Lakeside Hospital hosts groups of friends, as well as employees from Valmont Industries. And Alegent Creighton Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center will be hosting mammogram parties for the hospital's own employees.
Herman had attended the parties before, but now is an outspoken advocate: "I tell everyone that when you get to be my age you need to get your mammogram!" She was diagnosed two months after turning 50.
She remembered passing the gift shop at Immanuel when she was there one day for radiation. A sign caught her eye and she rushed into the shop and bought it. It read simply: "Lucky."